From late October 2016 to early September 2017, the Citizen Sense research project collaborated with residents of southeast London to develop a citizen-led air-quality monitoring project. Residents in this area were particularly concerned about air quality levels in relation to road transport and construction, and had already begun to undertake community activities for monitoring environmental pollutants.
Citizen Sense worked with local residents to develop a monitoring kit that included Dustbox sensors for monitoring particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), and an Airsift platform for mapping monitoring locations and viewing real-time and historic data. Residents were also provided with a logbook of instructions, which suggested several options for recording observations of environmental conditions and health effects.
Environmental Public Health
London suffers from poor air quality, and PM2.5 is one of several key pollutants. While many official air quality stations in the London Air Quality Network (LAQN) monitor nitrogen dioxide (NO2), PM2.5 is less extensively monitored. However, PM2.5 adversely affects respiratory health. As reports from the Lancet and the Royal College of Physicians note, environmental public health is an area of growing concern.
The Citizen Sense Dustbox and kit were distributed in October 2016 during a monitoring workshop and walk, and were also available for free loan at the Deptford Lounge Library. In total, 30 monitors and logbooks were distributed to participants. The monitoring period ran for nearly 10 months, until September 2017. During peak monitoring activity, there were 21 active Dustboxes, and there was consistent monitoring taking place at up to 18 monitoring sites over a period of 7 months.
Citizen Data: Key Findings
The 7 data stories presented on this site demonstrate the different patterns that have emerged from the data, including:
- Traffic intersections often have significantly higher pollutant levels. Higher PM2.5 levels can be made worse by construction activity and construction-related traffic in the same areas.
- Pollution data combined with wind data indicate that the River Thames is a possible emissions source in some areas.
- Urban design can make a significant and positive difference in terms of preventing and mitigating pollution, especially in well planted garden areas and pedestrian streets.
Read the data stories below to find out more.
Citizen data demonstrates that automobile and HGV traffic are primary sources of PM2.5 emissions in Deptford Park. These emission levels are most likely made worse by extensive construction activity and construction-related traffic in the area.
Citizen data shows that automobile and HGV traffic are primary sources of PM2.5 emissions in Creekside, especially on Deptford Church Street. These emission levels are most likely made worse by extensive construction activity and construction-related traffic in the area.
Old Tidemill Garden
Citizen data from the Old Tidemill Garden area shows some evidence of PM2.5 emissions related to traffic, but levels are lower here in comparison to neighbouring areas. Green spaces could have a mitigating effect on some pollution levels.
New Cross Gate
Key findings in New Cross Gate show that pollution levels are high near major roads, but are considerably lower on pedestrianized streets and within well planted community gardens.
While monitoring in New Cross indicates that traffic is a clear source of PM2.5 emissions, pollutant levels recorded here were somewhat moderate in comparison to other major traffic intersections.