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Scientists Say Public Monitoring of Pollution Could Lead to Cleaner Air

Published on: 24 Jan, 2024
Updated on: 26 Jan, 2024

Empowering the public to monitor pollution in their communities could lead to cleaner air, say research scientists from the University of Surrey.

The university reports that during a five-month study, scientists from its Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) worked with volunteers from Zero Carbon Guildford to create a new way of monitoring air quality in real-time.

The display screen at Zero Carbon Guildford that displayed pollution data live.

The data recorded made the public more aware of pollution levels, and now the university team hopes similar projects can empower communities to improve their air.

At Zero Carbon’s base, which it was then occupying a vacant shop unit in Guildford town centre, the team installed 10 low-cost sensors.

Visitors were able to view air pollution data live on a newly designed system in which emojis represented the levels of pollution, from “good” to “very high”.

The director of the Global Centre for Clean Air Research at the University of Surrey, Professor Prasant Kumar, said: “Rather than study them from afar, we asked the local community what they wanted to know.

“We designed this research with them and helped them understand how to improve their air quality. We need more work like this. When scientists, public bodies and citizens come together, they can create a healthier environment for all.”

The research found large gatherings led to more dust in the air and more CO2, thanks to more people breathing it out. At peak times, high air pollution in the street outside led to a rise in smaller particles inside the building, too.

Visitors were also able to get tips on how to improve air quality through an interactive quiz.

Ben McCallan, who formerly chaired Zero Carbon Guildford and was the co-author of the study, said: “Polluted air causes around seven million premature deaths a year.

“This collaborative work is a leading example of how to help local communities understand the situation where they live and work. This empowers them to solve their own air quality challenges.

“Our approach does not cost much, but could transform public health for millions.”

On its website, Zero Carbon Guildford says “news on our new premises is imminent”.

The website gives details of plenty of activities taking place. Click here to view. 

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Responses to Scientists Say Public Monitoring of Pollution Could Lead to Cleaner Air

  1. John Armstrong Reply

    January 27, 2024 at 5:52 pm

    I must say that the article suggesting empowering the good people of Guildford go around monitoring the air for CO2 is something of a hoot; that it should come from scientists makes it even more risible.

    It gets worse. They even seem to suggest that the air we breathe in and out is a contributory factor to climate change. I would be astonished If real scientists actually believe this.

    Nothing that lives and dies on this planet contributes anything to overall atmospheric CO2. Life on earth uses CO2 to live and grow then releases it back when it dies save for a small amount that remains in the earth or the ocean bed. This natural process has led to atmospheric CO2 going inexorably downwards since the beginning of life itself; in the end there will not be enough CO2 even for fungi.

    The only contributory factor to increased levels of atmospheric CO2 are fossil fuels and permafrost melting out. So you can all breath free.

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