How London Uses Technology to Check Air Pollution

Air Pollution in London. Photo: Mayor of London
Air Pollution in London. Photo: Mayor of London

London has launched an advanced air quality monitoring network which will help the city’s policymakers “put the right policies in place”, according to London Mayor Saddiq Khan.

London is working with academic, private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGO) partners on Breathe London, a year-long, multi-partner project funded by C40 cities and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. It is managed by the Environmental Defense Fund Europe.

Breathe London has mounted a network of 100 state-of-the-art sensor pods on lampposts and buildings in the worst affected areas and sensitive locations throughout the city, which will take continuous readings, while Google Street View cars fitted with mobile sensors will roam over a thousand miles of roadways taking readings about every 30 metres.

London Mayor Saddiq Khan
London Mayor Saddiq Khan

“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. As a recent Aether report demonstrated, these actions will benefit all Londoners, but particularly those living in the capital’s deprived areas. 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,” said Mayor Khan.

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This is significant in a world where 9 out of 10 people breathe air that does not meet World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and 7 million people die each year from diseases caused by air pollution, the majority of them from low- and middle-income countries.

The cost of air pollution to the London economy has been estimated at £3.7 billion every year, due to the health impact of fine particulate pollution (PM₂.₅) and nitrogen dioxide leading to lost life-years, hospital admissions, and deaths.

Photo: London Mayor

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Rakesh Raman