Khan announces ‘world’s most advanced’ air quality monitoring network

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched the ‘world’s most advanced’ network of air quality monitors to help observe and improve the quality of London’s air.

The network, called Breathe London, will use cutting-edge fixed and mobile sensors to build up hyperlocal images of London’s air quality in real-time.

The data collected by the monitors across London will provide an unprecedented level of insight into London’s air quality and will be available for the public to view on an interactive online map on the project’s website.

Announcing Breathe London at a Southwark primary school this morning, Khan said: ‘I’m proud that we’re leading the world in establishing this new monitoring network — allowing Londoners to see the levels of pollution at a local level.

‘This real-time data will also help us learn more about London’s toxic air and help us to put the right policies in place to continue our clean-up efforts.

‘I hope the success of this scheme will act as a blueprint for cities around the world as they battle their own toxic air emergencies.’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan

The project has emerged from a collaboration between City Hall, the Environmental Defence Fund Europe and Google Earth Outreach, who have agreed to equip two of their ‘Street View’ cars with air quality sensors.

The cars will take pollution readings approximately every 30 metres as they travel through thousands of locations in London, allowing them to build an overall picture of London’s air quality over the course of a year.

The mobile sensors will work in conjunction with 100 new fixed sensor pods which will be mounted on lampposts and buildings near known air quality hotspots and sensitive areas such as schools.

The project has been collecting data since November 2018 and expands London’s existing air quality monitoring network, already the most advanced of any world city with over 100 fixed monitors currently in use.

If Breathe London’s approach proves successful, similar technology may soon be introduced in other C40 cities across the world.

Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40 said: ‘The citizens of Paris, London and all the great cities of the world have a right to clean air to breathe. C40 is proud to support the efforts of Mayor Khan to better understand and map the air pollution across London.

‘Cities around the world will be watching the results of this project very closely as we work together to clean the air that our citizens breathe and reduce the dangerous emissions that cause climate change.’

Signs are now being put up to inform of the boundaries for the ULEZ

The launch of Breathe London is just one part of Khan’s recent efforts to improve London’s air quality, alongside the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone which is set to launch in central London this April.

A recent report by air quality consultants Aether found that Khan’s measures will particularly benefit residents of the capital’s most deprived areas, reducing the gap in NO2 pollution exposure between the city’s richest and poorest residents by 72% by 2030.

The Breathe London project has been welcomed by the London Assembly Environment Committee, which has repeatedly pushed for measures to tackle London’s poor air quality. 

However, the committee stressed that more must be done than simply monitoring air quality to ensure that the crisis is fully addressed.

‘If monitoring allows people to access forecasting information that reduces their exposure to pollution, it could potentially protect the health of Londoners,’ said Caroline Russell AM, chair of the committee.

‘However, knowing there is a problem without the ability to avoid it helps no-one, which is why monitoring can only ever be part of the answer.’


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