London did not declare a high pollution alert in February despite the fact that, in Camden, the air quality was worse than in January.
Our report on the air pollution trends in Camden, London in February 2023 analysed data from a representative sample of AirNodes from the AirScape sensor network in Camden which measures street-level air quality data in real time. It showed an increase in all major pollutants in February compared to January.
|Month/Pollutant||NO2 in ug/m3||O3 in ug/m3||PM2.5 in ug/m3|
The PM2.5 data showed some increased concentration strongly above the average for at least 10 days in February. The periods between the 6th and 9th as well as 13th to 16th were especially bad. The average concentration in the 13th-16th period (31.6 ug/m3) increased three times compared to the average February concentration (10.3 ug/m3). The pollution was of a similar scale that caused the London authorities to raise a high pollution alert on 24th January (18.5 ug/m3) and 25th January (29.5 ug/m3).
The AQI levels reached unhealthy thresholds again, and air quality was very poor on the 14th of February. You could argue that from a health perspective staying home on Valentine’s Day was probably a better decision this year than going on a romantic walk.
The data also revealed two periods of elevated NO2 concentrations on the 6th-10th and 13th-16th of February, with NO2 concentration being clearly higher than the WHO guidelines for 24-hour NO2 average (25 ug/m3).
The ozone concentration showed much higher variability in February compared to NO2. The average concentration of O3 in the last three months (from December to February) remained at similar levels and slightly increased month over month, probably due to increasing sunshine duration. However, periods of low wind speed from the east contributed the most to the low ozone concentration in February. Strong winds from the north that should have reduced the ozone concentration in the city didn’t help in the last days of February due to strong solar radiation. The correlation between wind speed and direction with ozone is very noticeable.
The pollution seems to be correlated with lower temperatures and small wind speeds. Higher wind speed, precipitation, and warm weather have a significant positive impact on lowering PM concentration.
Prof Matthew Johnson, Chief Science Officer at AirScape said “Air pollution is one of the most profound issues facing humanity today. Clean air is a human right, just like clean water and safe food.
We saw that pollution in the city was of a similar scale which caused the London authorities to raise a high pollution alert in January. This, however, didn’t happen in February even though the AQI levels reach unhealthy thresholds again.”
Jorge M Vasquez, Chief Executive Officer at AirScape said “The significance of everyone being aware of the air they breathe cannot be overstated, as demonstrated by this report. Cities that adopt the AirScape solution are at the forefront of addressing the genuine concerns of their citizens and actively working towards resolving them.”
World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that almost all of the global population (99%) breathe air that exceeds WHO guideline limits and contains high levels of pollutants, with low- and middle-income countries suffering from the highest exposures.
With at least 40,000 premature deaths each year in the UK due to air pollution, toxic air is a known contributor to cancer, heart disease, strokes and asthma. Causing over 20x more deaths than road traffic accidents[i], poor air quality costs society, businesses and our NHS services more than £15 billion a year. To reflect the increasing scientific evidence of the harm to health caused by toxic air, the WHO sharply reduced its guideline limits for air pollution last year.
AirScape, in partnership with Camden Council and The Camden Clean Air Initiative, installed 229 AirNode air quality sensors across the borough of Camden in London to capture hyper-local air quality data every minute, to map the problem in real time. The ground-breaking network provides 45 times more spatial resolution and refreshes 60 times more regularly than existing air quality reference stations. They aim to replicate the model across London and major cities worldwide to enable real action on air pollution.
Data is freely available on the AirScape web platform, at airscape.ai, to enable individuals, businesses and local authorities to make quality-of-life decisions that improve air quality for all. The data generated from the network can be used in a myriad of ways, enabling the public to choose less polluted routes from A-to-B, feeding into local traffic management policy and providing NHS Trusts and schools with information to help raise awareness of air pollution and protect vulnerable communities. The future possibilities of how the data can be used are vast and AirScape is aiming to engage with potential partners, clean air groups and councils to explore future collaboration.
This report serves as a reminder that air pollution is still a major problem, and we need to take measures to address it. The report provides scientifically advanced air quality information that is easily accessible to the public. The findings will be used to improve air quality in Camden, London, and other cities around the world.
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