The third and final round of London community groups which will receive free sensors to monitor and tackle local air pollution have been selected.
As part of the Breathe London Community Programme, 20 additional groups will have the opportunity to measure air quality, with assistance from Imperial College London researchers, in their local area.
Breathe London, which is supported by the Mayor of London and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and delivered by researchers from Imperial’s Environmental Research Group with support from The Social Innovation Partnership, empowers communities across London to advance actions on air quality. The programme supports groups living in areas impacted by poor air quality and with limited access to green spaces with equipment to track their exposure to harmful pollution and raise awareness of the importance of clean air.
Poor air quality has been shown to have many health impacts including increased risk of dementia, lung cancer and low birth weight. It can also stunt children’s lungs and worsen chronic illnesses such as asthma.
The programme aims to reach groups with a passion for monitoring and improving air quality in their area, particularly those in more deprived areas who face higher exposures than those in less deprived areas.
It is part of the wider Breathe London Network – which receives investment from the Mayor and Bloomberg Philanthropies – that monitors pollution at over 400 locations across London, prioritising schools, hospitals and locations chosen by community groups, along with cultural institutions and museums.
Breathe London has already awarded 40 sensors to community groups since 2021. The participating groups have received support from the Environmental Research Group with interpreting real-time air quality data, including measurements of small particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), both of which have been shown to be harmful to health. Data from all the sensors in the programme is available in near real-time, for all Londoners to see, free on the Breathe London website.
The participants for this final round of the programme include local business groups, residents’ associations, youth clubs, parents’ groups and a performing arts academy.
Antha Williams, who leads Environment Programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies, said: “Air pollution is detrimental to people’s health and livelihoods, especially for children and those who suffer from chronic illnesses. Providing community groups with access to accurate, localized, real-time air quality data can provide them with the insights they need to act and support effective change. Bloomberg Philanthropies is proud to partner with the Mayor of London and Imperial’s Environmental Research Group to award sensors through this initiative and continue supporting efforts to raise awareness and improve air quality across London.”
Shirley Rodrigues, London Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, said: “It’s great to be working with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Imperial’s Environmental Research Group on this important initiative once again.”
“Air pollution prematurely kills around 4,000 Londoners each year and causes increased risk of illnesses such as asthma, lung disease, dementia, and cancer.”
“We know Londoners want to be more proactive in tackling air pollution locally and the Breathe London Community Programme empowers them to do this. By providing community groups with free sensors to monitor the air quality in their local area we can help them take action to reduce air pollution and raise awareness of the importance of clean air for all.”
Dr Ben Barratt, Reader in Environmental Exposures & Public Health at Imperial College London, said: “The passion and energy shown by the 40 community groups already supported in this innovative programme is inspiring. We have already learned so much about the importance of clean air to communities and I’m delighted that a further 20 groups will be empowered to generate their own local evidence and impact.”
Willesden Green Town Team, one of the selected groups for this round, said: “The Breathe London Node will be an incredibly important resource for Willesden Green Town Team in our drive towards tackling air pollution in Willesden Green. While we know anecdotally that the area suffers poor air quality as a result of heavy traffic congestion, construction and other light industry, we are lacking more scientific evidence.”
“The Breathe London Node will provide data that will enable us to better understand the problem, lobby for change and tackle it more effectively through our greening and other targeted projects, for the wellbeing of the entire community.”
The Breathe London Network is supported by the Mayor of London and Bloomberg Philanthropies and is managed by the Environmental Research Group at Imperial College London. For more information about the project, please visit: breathelondon.org
The full list of Breathe London Round 3 groups: Wandsworth Community Roads, Copers Cope Area Residents’ Association, Green Westbourne, Surrey Docks Farm, Havering Cyclists, Sustainable Merton, R-Urban Poplar and Leaders in Community, Islington Clean Air Parents, Falcon Residents Association and Bloomsbury Air, Clean Air for Beck Square, Elthorne Park & Leighton Roads Residents Association, RUSS, Fitzrovia Trust, Friends of Limehouse, Northwood Air Quality, Willesden Green Town Team, Neon Performing Arts x Live + Breathe, Chipping Barnet Foodbank, Newington Green Action Group, Thames Life.
About Breathe London:
Following a pilot generously supported by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and Clean Air Fund, the Mayor and Bloomberg Philanthropies are investing a combined 202 air quality sensors prioritising schools, hospitals and locations chosen by community groups, along with cultural institutions and museums. These sensors are part of the wider Breathe London Network, which currently consists of more than 400 sensors and is expected to continue to expand in the future. The sensor network, data analysis and website are managed through Imperial Projects by scientists from the Environmental Research Group at Imperial College London’s School of Public Health.
The Breathe London Community Programme gives local community groups and Londoners the opportunity to apply for free air quality sensors. It is aimed at vulnerable communities and areas that have poor air quality, limited green space or high deprivation.
Community groups were invited to apply for the first 10 of 60 free sensors in October 2021. Those selected met the criteria defined by an independent advisory panel of experts from the air pollution and health sectors, as well as charities and community groups.
Each of the successful community groups has pledged to measure air pollution, raise awareness or make interventions within their own local community.
Real-time, user-friendly air quality data is available on the Breathe London website: breathelondon.org
About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed US$ 1.7 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org, sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Global Clean Air Program:
Bloomberg Philanthropies leads the world’s most ambitious clean air effort that aims to improve air quality through support for pilot projects in cities, as well as partnerships with national governments and organizations. This includes initiatives in Brussels, Jakarta, London, Milan, Paris, Warsaw, and other governments around the world. In June 2023, Bloomberg Philanthropies committed US $30 million to launch Breathe Cities to break down barriers to action and ensure communities around the world have access to clean air.
About the GLA:
The GLA is governed by the Mayor of London, currently Sadiq Khan, and the London Assembly. It provides citywide leadership and creates policies to improve London for all.
About the Environmental Research Group at Imperial College London:
The Environmental Research Group is part of Imperial’s School of Public Health and is a leading provider of air quality information and research in the UK, combining air pollution science, toxicology and epidemiology to determine the impacts of air pollution on health and the role specific pollutants play in causing disease and deaths. They work closely with those responsible for air quality management supporting policies and actions to minimise the impact of air pollution on health and established the London Air Quality Network – and Breathe London Programme – which continuously monitors air pollution levels at sites across London.
About Imperial College London:
Imperial College London is a global top ten university with a world-class reputation. The College’s 22,000 students and 8,000 staff are working to solve the biggest challenges in science, medicine, engineering and business.
The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 found that it has a greater proportion of world-leading research than any other UK university, it was named University of the Year 2022 according to The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, University of the Year for Student Experience 2022 by the Good University Guide, and awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its COVID-19 response.
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