AQ Monitoring

Notes for a potential London-based, cross-schools AQM Project

  1. London-wide Air Quality Monitoring project
  2. With resources and support for running it in schools and/ or community centres
  3. Assistance in acquiring the necessary kit (ranging from diffusion tubes to DIY monitoring components)
  4. Tied to the curriculum, with wide-reaching activities that touch on a range of subjects
  5. Partnering with scientific researchers in this field – both in terms of Air Quality and Citizen Science
  6. Sharing and mapping the data
  7. Building on the experience and platforms of existing projects
  8. Not a one-off activity, but an on-going one (annually in the classroom, seasonally in communities,)
  9. Data mapped and presented over time and location

The issue of AQ in London


London-based Initiatives

  • Mapping for Change has run, and is running, a number of Community Engagement + Mapping projects around Air Quality:
    • Science in the City is a project that is being carried out with residents in the Barbican and Mansell Street, in the City of London. Residents are using low-tech tools to measure Nitrogen Dioxide and particulates.
    • In 2009, Mapping for Change supported communities across London to measure and map local air quality. Use of a ‘citizen science’ approach meant local residents in seven locations were able to collect data, then see the real results of their monitoring activities, and subsequently embark on a campaign to see the serious results addressed.
    • Mapping for Change produced a Climate and Community Action Map, to inform people about initiatives happening in their local area. As there are thousands of organisations and projects that could be displayed, there is no one organisation that has a comprehensive list so any mapping will need to rely on local people’s knowledge and readiness to add their work to the map.
    • The Pepys Estate in Deptford, south London, is a predominately 1960’s housing estate on the banks of the Thames, characterised by tower blocks and social housing. Situated near a busy thoroughfare and surrounding an industrial site, the estate suffers a variety of urban environmental issues.
  • The GLA funds a programme called Clean Air 4 Schools. This helps teachers, pupils and parent learn more about air pollution, how to reduce the harm they are exposed to, and steps the school can take to make a small difference to the air pollution levels in their area. Currently funding is very limited, but in the Green Group budget amendment the Mayor has been pressed to allocate £800k so all of the worst affected schools can take it up. Contact details are on the LSX web site.
  • Mayor’s Office Cleaner Air 4 Schools
  • Mayor’s Office publications
  • London Local Air Quality Management Report
  • I Like Clean Air
    • “We ran our first tests in September 2014 around four primary schools in south Hackney and then expanded it to include four more. Then we repeated it in February 2015, plotted the results on maps and distributed them at the school gates. We found that almost all the streets we tested were breaching legal air pollution limits for the whole year.”
  • How Polluted is My Road
  • Research by the Campaign for Clean Air found that 1,148 schools in London are within 150 metres of roads carrying 10,000 or more vehicles per day, and a total of 2,270 schools are within 400 metres of such roads.
  • Scientific research indicates that children exposed to higher levels of traffic-related air pollution at school and home may be at increased risk of developing asthma. Scientists say living near roads travelled by 10,000 or more vehicles per day could be responsible for some 15-30 per cent of all new cases of asthma in children; and of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and CHD (coronary heart disease) in adults 65 years of age and older.
  • London Sustainability Exchange
  • Cleaner Air 4 Communities: CA4C was an innovative citizen science and engagement project to educate, activate and encourage communities involvement in air quality in between July 2013 – June 2015. We engaged 8 borough councils and increased understanding and involvement in air quality issues in 11 community groups. The final report was recently published, and can be read here.
  • The Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy
  • A new report, Up in the Air, by Policy Exchange‘s Capital City Foundation and King’s College London, analyses data from over 100 air quality monitoring sites across London. It shows the most polluted parts of the Capital currently have levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) nearly four times the legal limit. The research finds that 12.5% of the total area of the Capital currently exceeds the legal limit for NO2, and that deprived parts of London are more likely to be affected. The report highlights some startling numbers:
    • 328,000 school children and 3.8million workers in London are exposed to unhealthy levels of Nitrogen Dioxide which is linked to asthma and respiratory infections.
    • 979 out of a total of 3,161 schools in London are over the limit for NO2. The data includes primary and secondary schools, including independent schools.
    • Children attending schools in Inner London boroughs such as Westminster, Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Camden are particularly at risk to harmful levels of NO2 pollution.
  • The London iSpex campaign was run by The Institute of Physics (IOP), also founding partner for the International Year of Light (IYL) and coordinator of its activities across the UK, is leading the local campaign activities, working closely with the Science & Technology Facilities Council, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (STFC-RAL) and the iSPEX team at Leiden University in the Netherlands. This research project has now ended.
  • Clean Air in London: Campaigning to achieve urgently and sustainably full compliance with World Health Organisation guidelines for air quality throughout London and elsewhere. (Simon Birkett)
  • The Deliver Change  NO2 IN SCHOOLS PROGRAMME: CO-LOCATING AN AIRSENSA DEVICE AND NO2 DIFFUSION TUBES. We are now expanding our schools programme to provide richer data than ever about how pollution affects school premises in heavily polluted locations, by co-locating an AirSensa continuous monitoring unit with NO2diffusion tubes (which measure average pollution over time). The diffusion tubes will allow us to collect data from multiple points on a school premises to show how gases distribute (and can be shielded against somewhat); the AirSensa unit will show how pollution fluctuates over time – minute by minute.


People Involved in AQM

  • Ian Colbeck, University of Essex
  • Benjamin Barratt (Lecturer in Air Quality Science) , King’s College London
  • David Green (Deputy Air Quality Monitoring Manager), King’s College London
  • Ian Mudway, another of KCL’s air pollution experts.
  • Simon Birkett, director of the Clean Air in London campaign group
    • Simon Birkett is Founder and Director of ‘Clean Air in London’ which has campaigned since 2006 to achieve full compliance with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines for air quality throughout London and elsewhere. Simon is a member of the High-Level Intergovernmental and Stakeholder Advisory Group for the United Nations Environment Programme’s sixth Global Environment Outlook due to report in 2018. He is also a member of the Executive Council of the European Chapter of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology and Chairs the Knightsbridge Neighbourhood Forum. He obtained a first class honours degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Science from the London Business School before working for Schroders then HSBC for 21 years including latterly as Group Head of Financial Education in the Corporate Sustainability Department. Simon has been included in Evening Standards’ list of Top 1,000 most influential people in London in each of the last two years. Simon is quoted frequently in the UK and international media and has over 26,000 followers on Twitter and 35,000 on Facebook.
  • Gemma George at the LSX, Cleaner Air 4 Schools & Cleaner Air 4 Communities: on 0207 234 9404 or email
  •  Richard Howard Head of Environment & Energy, Policy Exchange (wrote the Up in the Air report)
  • Sheila D’Souza, North Marylebone Traffic Committee, Governor of St Edward’s Catholic Primary School, Trustee of St Mary’s Hospital Development Trust and member of the St Marylebone Society and Marylebone Association.
  • Dr Audrey de Nazelle, researcher at the Center for Environmental Policy at the Imperial College
  • Alan Andrews, Client Earth- Lawyer, Health and Environment. Clean Air Project Leader

  • Change London Advisory Council:

Projects Elsewhere

  • In Toronto, the INHALE Project is testing an innovative air monitoring technique so residents can directly measure air pollution while walking or cycling.
  • There’s a similar project in operation in Pittsburgh called GASP, or Group Against Smog and Pollution), rather than having just a few stationary air monitoring stations, as is currently the case in most places.
  • The CITI-SENSE Citizens’ Observatories Central Web Portal
  • SenseBox – For a number of years, our team from the GI@School Lab at the Institute for Geoinformatics  at the University of Muenster has been gathering experience through the organization of workshops with students and teachers. The collection of data with do-it-yourself sensor stations has provided an especially accessible way to work with geographic information and environmental data in this context. Moreover programming skills are taught in a very illustrative and tangible way. This experience led us to develop the senseBox:edu based on a combination of Arduino micro-controller, sensors, and accessories for teams to work in a classroom context. The senseBox:home simplifies this approach as a general Citizen Science Toolkit.


Other News Sites

Government & NGO Information and Resources

Air Quality Maps

  • Interactive Map (UK). Use this Interactive map to find information about your area: Your local council will also publish air quality information if it has an Air Quality Management Area(s). Use the ‘Local Authority Finder’ to find your local council(s):
  • London (London Air Quality Network) – The most comprehensive source of air quality information about London is the website of the London Air Quality Network published by Kings College London:
  • The European Environment Agency carries out air pollution monitoring work for the European Union:
  • SenseBox Map:


Data Sources

  • Open AQ Sources worldwide
  • London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory 2013: The LAEI 2013 is the latest version of the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory and replaces the previous versions.Estimates of key pollutants (NOx, PM10, PM2.5 and CO2) are included for the base year 2013 and projected forward to 2020, 2025, and 2030. Emissions for previous years 2008 and 2010 are also provided, to allow comparison with previous versions of the LAEI. The LAEI area covers the 32 London Boroughs and the City of London and up to the M25 motorway
  • London DataStore

DIY Equipment

  • Air Quality Egg
  • senseBox:edu offers schools, starting from the 7th grade, the possibility to learn programming in a fun and playful environment, to be a real citizen scientist and to get to know the world of geoinformatics. In the upper grades it can be used for projects on environmental phenomena, where sensor stations are built, programmed and positioned by the students. Furthermore the sensor stations are connected to the Internet, where the measurements are updated and published on openSenseMap. In this way, data can be shared with other schools, citizens and scientists.
    • Sensors for temperature, humidity, air pressure, UV(A)-intensity, distance and more
    • No soldering necessary
    • Examples and instructions
    • Learning units organized in a wiki
  • Air Beam – AirBeam is a wearable air monitor that maps, graphs, and crowdsources your pollution exposures in real-time via the AirCasting Android app. AirBeams are $249 each. Domestic shipping is included in the price. Shipping outside the United States is $20 for the first unit and $10 for each additional unit. If you would like to purchase more than five AirBeams please email There is a 5% discount for orders of twenty or more AirBeams. If you have questions about the AirBeam or AirCasting email us at

Monitoring Equipment


London Air Quality Network Conferences

21 June 2016 – 60 years on from the Clean Air Act – air pollution in London today

2 July 2015 – Air Pollution trends and intervention analysis, engagement with businesses and communities

23-24 June 2014 – Frontiers in Air Quality Science