Air pollution sensors to warn people of spikes in Leicester

Portable monitors are to be used to tell people in Leicester when there are spikes in air pollution in the city as they happen.

The city council is close to setting up a £250,000 scheme that will map out the city’s air quality and send real-time information directly to anyone who downloads an app.

The aim of the project is to help people limit their exposure to harmful pollutants which can cause breathing issues for people exposed to them for long periods of time.

Early trials saw levels of particulate pollution spike dramatically for short periods of time – one to two hours – during the two days of Bonfire Night celebrations in November .

Readings from the new monitors showed late-night levels of pollution increase sharply to between 400 and 600 micrograms per cubic metre, before quickly returning to normal levels.

The city council is working with Leicester-based air quality expert EarthSense to carry out a detailed citywide study of the sources and concentrations of particulates including dust, smoke, pollen and soot.

Current national guidelines set a maximum annual average for particulates at 25 micrograms per cubic metre.

There are no limits set for daily or hourly levels but the World Health Organisation recommends that annual average levels should not be higher than 10 micrograms per cubic meter.

Leicester’s most recently recorded annual average was below 11 micrograms per cubic meter.

Air pollution in Leicester is above EU targets

Deputy city mayor councillor Adam Clarke, who leads on transportation and environment, said: “This ambitious project will play a vital role in helping us build a clear picture of the sources of pollution, which parts of the city are most affected and the impact that domestic wood burning is having on local air quality.

“We are already making huge progress in improving air quality, with nitrogen dioxide at the lowest levels we’ve ever seen in the city.

“This important study will put us ahead of the curve and help us take decisive local action to tackle the potentially harmful effects.

EarthSense technical director Dr Roland Leigh said: “Solid fuel burners can contribute significantly to particulate pollution in our cities with the potential to worsen serious health problems.

“Making use of our sensors will provide Leicester City Council with a holistic understanding of air pollution and how domestic stoves, in particular, could contribute to potentially harmful concentrations.”

Leicestershire Live – Leicester News