Monitoring air pollution in London
There is an invisible threat to Londoners’ health: Air pollution likely contributes to thousands of early deaths in London every year.
Urban residents need better information on pollution’s health effects, as well as readily available — and understandable — air pollution data and analysis. That’s why the Breathe London pilot project mapped and measured pollution across the capital, led for two years by Environmental Defense Fund Europe and launched in partnership with the Mayor of London and leading science and technology experts.
With more than 100 lower-cost sensor pods and specially-equipped Google Street View cars, Breathe London complemented and expanded upon London’s existing monitoring networks. The project aimed to help people better understand their local air quality and support cities around the world with future monitoring initiatives. EDF developed the Breathe London Blueprint for global cities, which includes both a guide for city-level decision-makers and a more detailed Technical Report.
Expanding our work and network of partners
Building on Environmental Defense Fund’s air quality sensor experience in California and Texas, to deliver this pilot project we partnered with Google Earth Outreach, Air Monitors Ltd., The University of Cambridge, Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants, National Physical Laboratory, and King’s College London. The project was the result of a partnership between the Greater London Authority, C40 Cities and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, with continued funding from Clean Air Fund.
The next phase of Breathe London, started in December 2020, can be found at www.BreatheLondon.org.
Turning London pollution data into action
One of the main sources of London’s air pollution is transport. On-road vehicles — like cars, delivery vans and lorries — are responsible for some of the most harmful air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
Building on the landmark monitoring project of Breathe London, our air quality team is using data to spotlight the city’s pollution from transport and other sources. For example, diesel fuel is an especially harmful polluter, so we zoomed in on air pollution created by diesel cars. We also found that deprived kids and children of BAME background are breathing in significantly more pollution at their primary school.