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20 years of monitoring air pollution

14 September 2017
20 years of monitoring air pollution

Since its installation 20 years ago, the Marylebone Road Atmospheric Observatory, which is run by King’s College London, has played a key role in air pollution measurement research in the UK. The site has underpinned the research relating to emissions from traffic in the UK, by providing detailed measurements of the composition of gases and particles.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the site’s installation, Thérèse Coffey MP from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs visited the station to see the monitoring work that takes place there. Notably, research conducted at the station has impacted on UK and European air quality policy by identifying the consequences of changing fuels and emission reduction technologies and policies.

Marylebone Road has been at the forefront of air pollution measurement research in the UK for over 20 years and it was a pleasure to host the minister at this Defra and NERC funded research facility – Dr David Green, who set up the monitoring station in 1997 and continues to run the Atmospheric Observatory Research Programme.

The Marylebone Road station has been in operation since 1997 and has had significant impact on both what is measured at these types of locations and how it is measured. For example, measurements of the particle number demonstrated the large reduction in concentrations that occurred when removing sulphur from diesel fuel.

‘During the visit we discussed how measurements from Marylebone Road identified today’s problems with diesel exhausts as early as 2003 and how we have been able to track the air pollution improvements from the introduction of cleaner diesel fuel.’ – Dr Gary Fuller, Environmental Research Group.

The site produced the first measurements in the world to show the impact of direct NO2 emissions from diesel and continues to play an important role in quantifying the air quality impact of the Congestion Charging Zone and London Low Emission Zone. The station also serves as a test bed for new and innovative measurements of air quality and its health effects.

Find out more about the Environmental Research Group here.

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