London launches community programme to expand air quality sensor network

London launches community programme to expand air quality sensor network

London’s City Hall has released new data revealing the gap between the most- and least deprived areas for exposure to harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has narrowed by up to half since 2016.


The report also shows, however, that communities which have higher levels of deprivation, or a higher proportion of people from a non-white ethnic background, are still more likely to be exposed to higher levels of air pollution.


In a bid to tackle the twin dangers of air pollution and the climate emergency, mayor Sadiq Khan has announced a community programme in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies to award 60 free air quality sensors to local communities, providing access to real-time air quality data.


Sensor network


The announcement comes ahead of the UK hosting the Cop26 climate change conference in November and the ultra low emission zone (Ulez) expansion later this month. The latest initiative with Bloomberg will grow the Breathe London sensor network to almost 350 sensors and expand it to London’s museums and cultural institutions


Community organisations are invited to apply for a free air quality sensor to be installed in a location of their choice, providing real time, hyperlocal data. The programme aims to reach communities that research shows have poor air quality and lack access to green space, including low-income and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Londoners.

“Our new research confirms that that those exposed to the worst air pollution are more likely to be Londoners living in deprived areas and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities”

The sensors are being provided to some community groups and boroughs free of charge, but for the first time, Breathe London air quality monitoring sensors are also available to purchase directly by organisations and individuals wishing to monitor air quality in their local area, measure the impact of existing schemes to improve air quality, or help communities lobby for action in areas with high levels of toxic pollution.


The Breathe London Network, managed by the Environmental Research Group at Imperial College London and funded by the Mayor of London and Bloomberg Philanthropies, is an important part of Khan’s work to raise awareness of air pollution, making it easier for all Londoners to access reliable, localised, real-time air quality data.

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