Oxford resident slams ‘amazingly small’ air monitor

However, Oxford city council claims nitrogen dioxide monitor placed on a sign post using tape between two busy streets meets Defra approval

An Oxford resident has hit out at the city council’s introduction of an “amazingly small” air quality monitor after waiting two years for one to be put up between Abingdon Road and Weirs Lane.

A nitrogen dioxide (NO2) diffusion tube monitor was originally in place on the corner of the two streets for eight years until 2010 when it was removed.

A photo taken of the air qualituy monitor between Weirs and Abingdon

A photo taken of the air quality monitor put up between Weirs Lane and Abingdon Road

The monitor found that levels of the pollutant breached national limits of 40 micrograms per cubic metre, although the council said monitoring over this period showed a 20% reduction in nitrogen dioxide to levels “barely above air quality objective levels”.

As a result of this reduction, the tube was removed by the council in 2010, but another monitor has been re-established close to the corner of the two streets since April 2013.

However, resident Sue Smith said the new tube had not been placed at the same spot on the corner of the two roads and is “surrounded by greenery just below it”, thereby potentially giving a different reading to the monitor that was removed in 2010.

Photos of the new monitor also appear to show it has been stuck up on a street signpost using tape, but Oxford city council have said the monitor meets government air assessment stipulations.

Mrs Smith said: “We have been told that a monitor was put in place on April 2nd 2013 – after waiting over two years for an air quality monitor to be put back, having been removed. The air quality was over 40 which is the danger level!”

She added: “The monitor is supposed to be to monitor the corner of Abingdon Road and Weirs Lane, although it is further down the road from the corner of these two roads, and seems amazingly small and stuck on with a piece of sellotape to a traffic post.”


Mrs Smith, who lives nearby to the monitor and suffers from asthma and chronic bronchitis, also said she was concerned that a forthcoming Tesco store, due to open on the site of the old Fox and Hounds pub on the corner, could increase traffic pollution in the area.

She said: “This area is very busy mornings and evenings, as it is used as the alternative by-pass for the High Street in the city, since this was closed to general traffic.”

She added that the area “seems to get covered in a fine film of dust on our back windows”.

An Oxford city council spokeswoman said: “The monitoring methodology adopted meets the approval of DEFRA, the government department responsible for air quality monitoring and assessment. A diffusion tube which monitors Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) was re-established here in April 2013 as part of our on-going monitoring programme. We had eight years of uninterrupted monitoring at this location until 2010, this showed a 20% reduction over this period to levels barely above air quality objective levels.”

However, according to the council, results from the air quality monitor may not be available for as long as two years due to “quality assurance” issues.

The spokeswoman said: “Results are subject to quality assurance, which can only be carried out from three months after the completion of each calendar year, thus there is a time delay in issuing results that can be approved.”


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Geoff Broughton
Geoff Broughton
11 years ago

“seems amazingly small and stuck on with a piece of sellotape to a traffic post” – but it works

Sue Smith
Sue Smith
11 years ago

Building work is due very soon for the Tesco building to go up, and would really like to get measurement of air quality now, as am sure already over- congested traffic will increase when the store is there. Not just air pollution, also noise pollution.

Sue Smith
Sue Smith
11 years ago
Reply to  Sue Smith

The monitor keeps disappearing – how often do they change it? Wasn’t there two days ago.

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