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Citizen Science Air Quality Project: Air pollutants and healthier travel choices
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Air quality is a national and global issue with significant costs upon the UK – estimated by the Government at £8.5-20bn per annum health impacts (Defra, 2010: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69340/pb13378-air-pollution.pdf). This is twice the costs of physical inactivity and comparable to the cost of alcohol misuse to society (Environmental Audit Committee, 9th Report – Air Quality: a follow-up – Volume I, 14 November 2011). There is increasing national interest and recently Client Earth won a case against UK Government (http://www.clientearth.org/major-victory-health-uk-high-court-government-inaction-air-pollution/).
The whole of the city of Liverpool is declared an Air Quality Management Area for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) by Liverpool City Council (see: http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/aqma/details?aqma_id=229). Air pollution is a contributory factor towards respiratory illness and related conditions, and directly affects health. An estimation of 239 deaths in Liverpool in 2010 were attributed to illnesses associated with air pollution (Public Health England 2014 ‘Estimating local mortality burdens associated with particulate air pollution’).
Liverpool Friends of the Earth are launching a Citizen Science project to investigate air quality awareness and perceptions within Liverpool and to investigate the question:
Can transparency of air quality data through citizen science increase awareness and empower people to make healthier travel decisions through reducing their exposure to air pollutants?
The project has been kindly funded by the Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and is run by Michael King and Stella Shackel. The funding has enabled 4 portable sensors to be purchased. These sensors can measure the air pollutants: particulate matter, Carbon Monoxide and Nitrogen dioxide. Data from these sensors can be overlaid on Liverpool maps to show the pollution levels for the routes along which the sensors are carried. More information is at: http://liverpoolfoe.org.uk/air-quality-in-liverpool/.
Volunteers will be engaged in the data gathering and feedback processes to help understand how Citizen Science approaches can help individuals and community groups. The data generated could also be used in the future for other purposes, such as comparing air quality data with the presence of green infrastructure. Friends of the Earth also has a national air quality campaign: https://www.foe.co.uk/page/air-pollution-campaign-clean-air
This project is about investigating low-cost methods to empower citizens with information to help them understand air quality levels and decide for themselves how they might act. The air quality data collected will be made available on the Liverpool FoE website.
Please answer our online survey to assess air quality awareness and help to promote it by re-tweeting our tweets from our twitter @LiverpoolFoE. Please answer the survey if you can and contribute to our evidence base! Thank you!