London community groups to receive free air quality sensors to help monitor air pollution in their local area
New York, NY and London – Mayor of London, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Imperial College London today announced the second round of the Breathe London Community Programme inviting community groups across London to apply to receive one of 30 air quality sensors to help them monitor the air pollution in their local area.
The Breathe London Community Programme aims to empower communities living in areas with poor air quality and limited access to green spaces to make positive changes in their neighbourhood with high-quality real-time local air quality data.
In July 2022, ten community groups across the capital received air quality sensors under the program’s first round. Lydia Fraser-Ward, a mum living in Redbridge was one of the first ten sensors recipients.
Lydia Fraser-Ward Mums for Lungs Redbridge said: “We were delighted to have been awarded an air quality sensor by the Breathe London Community Programme in the first round. Our community in South Woodford in the London Borough of Redbridge are deeply concerned about the levels of air pollution in the neighbourhood, particularly in the playground of our lovely local park Elmhurst Gardens which sits next to the North Circular. It is thanks to this project that we now have reliable and up-to-date data which members of the public can access online. This data demonstrates when pollution levels are at their highest and acts as important evidence to lobby for mitigation measures to help to protect park users from exposure to dangerously high levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter in the future.”
In the second round of the programme, community groups will receive one sensor, free of charge, providing them with access to reliable, localised and real-time air quality data. Groups are asked to use the opportunity to raise awareness and make interventions within their own local communities.
The sensors are lightweight and solar-powered, meaning they can be easily installed in locations such as next to roads, in playgrounds, or outside a business church or mosque to collect information about the surrounding air quality. The team at Imperial College will support groups to assess the best location for the sensor and provide support, including monitoring the data and organising meetups with other Breathe London community groups.
Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor, Environment and Energy at the Greater London Authority, said: “Monitoring air pollution is crucial to understanding the threat that bad air poses to all. The Breathe London Network is playing an important role in tackling this shared challenge by helping Londoners measure air pollution and campaign for action in their local communities. I’m delighted to be working with Bloomberg Philanthropies to provide free air quality sensors to communities across London, and I encourage eligible groups to apply. Together, we can help demonstrate the problem we have with air pollution and clean up our city’s air.”
Antha Williams, who leads Environment Programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies, said: “Empowering local communities to monitor their air helps them to understand the sources of air pollution better and take action to improve their health and livelihoods. We are excited to expand our partnership with the Mayor of London and the Breathe London Initiative by making additional sensors available to community groups. This effort will provide valuable insights to help clean London’s air and offer learnings for other cities working to combat the threats of air pollution.”
Dr. Ben Barratt, Reader in Environmental Exposures & Public Health, said: “This project is already having an impact, helping Londoners to actively monitor pollution levels in their area. We encourage more community groups to apply for the sensors. As it gains momentum, the programme will empower more and more people across the capital to drive healthier air quality in our cities.”
Poor air quality has been shown to stunt the growth of children’s lungs and worsens chronic illnesses such as asthma, and lung and heart disease. A study by Imperial’s Environmental Research Group, commissioned by City Hall, found that air quality policies and wider improvements in air pollution will increase the average life expectancy of a child born in London in 2013 by six months.
The Breathe London Community Programme is open to everyone and particularly encourages applications from vulnerable communities and groups from high-deprivation areas and limited green space, as well as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) minorities.
For more information about how to apply, please visit breathelondon.org/apply. The application deadline is October 16th.
About The Mayor of London’s work to tackle poor air quality across London:
The Mayor’s world-leading expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has led to four million more Londoners now breathing cleaner air following the zone’s expansion last autumn with harmful NO2 concentrations in inner London estimated to be 20 per cent lower than they would have been without the ULEZ and its expansion. In central London, NO2 concentrations are estimated to be 44 per cent lower than they would have been.
The ULEZ has been supported with other measures, such as expanding the green bus fleet, getting more electric taxis on London’s roads and working with businesses, councils and community groups to create Low Emission Neighbourhoods.
Collectively these have contributed to a 56 per cent reduction in levels of the harmful gas Nitrogen Dioxide between February 2017 and January 2022 in central London at roadside monitoring sites.
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 in a combined 202 air quality sensors prioritising schools, hospitals and locations chosen by community groups, along with cultural institutions and museums. The sensor network, data analysis and website are managed through Imperial Project by scientists from the Environmental Research Group at Imperial College London’s School of Public Health.
The Breathe London Network, managed by the Environmental Research Group at Imperial College London and funded by the Mayor of London and Bloomberg Philanthropies, is an important part of the Mayor’s work to raise awareness of air pollution, making it easier for all Londoners to access reliable, localized, real-time air quality data. The network currently stands at 328 sensors across all 33 of London’s Boroughs.
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.
About Imperial College London and the Environmental Research Group:
Imperial College London is one of the world’s leading universities. The College’s 20,000 students and 8,000 staff are working to solve the biggest challenges in science, medicine, engineering and business. Imperial is University of the Year 2022 in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide. It is the world’s fifth most international university, according to Times Higher Education, with academic ties to more than 150 countries. Reuters named the College as the UK’s most innovative university because of its exceptional entrepreneurial culture and ties to industry. Imperial has a greater proportion of world-leading research than any other UK university, according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Imperial ranks first in the UK for research outputs, first in the UK for research environment, and first for research impact among Russell Group universities.
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 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.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 941 cities and 173 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 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.66 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.