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Monitoring pollution to inform the most vulnerable Londoners

1 February 2018
Monitoring pollution to inform the most vulnerable Londoners

As part of continued work to understand and mitigate the risks of air pollution, scientists from King’s are working in partnership with The Mayor of London to provide continuous monitoring of air pollution levels and improve the way the public are informed about air pollution in the capital.

Providing accurate, up-to-date information [on air pollution] to the public is a central component of King’s civic duty

– Timothy Baker, Principal Air Quality Analyst

Pollution forecasting for London

Using the existing London Air Quality Network and a forecast of air pollution in London, the team at King’s will deliver alerts for episodes of moderate and high pollution to the Mayor’s office.

They will also directly notify a wider group of London stakeholders who are most vulnerable to the impacts of poor air, including schools, of episodes of moderate and high pollution. It is hoped these alerts will be rolled out more widely to include care homes and GP surgeries in the near future.

To ensure greater coordination and consistency in alerts messaging, the King’s forecasters also consider forecasts from other forecasters as part of their analysis.

Timothy Baker, Principal Air Quality Analyst at the Environmental Research Group said: ‘This new role for King’s recognises that our 25-year history of monitoring across London, in partnership with London’s boroughs, has given us an unrivalled understanding of air pollution in the Capital.

‘Providing accurate, up-to-date information to the public is a central component of King’s civic duty, and this exciting new partnership with The Mayor of London will enable that message to be delivered directly to those most affected by air pollution.’

Air pollution improvement in 2018

In 2018, data from the London Air Quality Network showed that UK objectives and EU limits for nitrogen dioxide concentrations were exceeded by 31 January on Brixton Road. This represented an improvement on previous years; in 2017 Brixton Road exceeded the limits by 5 January and in 2016 it took just eight days for Putney High Street to breach the objectives.

The improvement is likely due to a combination of better real-world emissions performance of the latest heavy goods vehicles and upgrades to London’s bus fleet.

The alerts system will still be a vital resource for those Londoners most susceptible to the health effects caused by high levels of pollution. Despite the decreases in NO2, the majority of main roads in London still regularly breach legal limits.

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The Environmental Research Group

The Environmental Research Group at King’s is one of the leading providers of air quality information and research in the UK. It combines air pollution science, toxicology and epidemiology to determine the impacts of air pollution on health and the causal factors.

The team focus on a variety of areas including lung biology, measurement, air quality monitoring, science policy, emissions and technology, with this collaborative approach allowing deeper insight that considers both the chemical make up of the air we breathe and the effects on the population as well as contributing to combatting ongoing air quality issues.

The group also works closely with those responsible for air quality management to support policies and actions to minimise air pollution health effects as well as creating technology to allow the general public to monitor their exposure.

For more information about studying in the Division of Analytical and Environmental Sciences, visit the website: https://www.kcl.ac.uk

King’s vision to be a civic university at the heart of London is one of the university’s five strategic priorities in our Vision to 2029.



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