Breathe Clean will be providing Tower Hamlets residents with the materials & training needed to monitor nitrogen dioxide levels around the places that matter to them. Participants will measure the air quality at a number of locations over a period of six months, to get a more granular picture of the situation in the borough. The data from the Breathe Clean project will be made available on Mapping for Change’s community maps webpage.
In partnership with Tower Hamlets Council, we will be supporting members of the community to collect data, using a citizen science approach, to understand what the current air pollution levels are around their homes, places of work, schools and recreational spots.
Tower Hamlets currently has three automatic air monitoring stations across the borough and monitors nitrogen dioxide levels, using diffusion tubes at a number of additional locations. We aim to give residents the opportunity to add to this monitoring effort, and to know specifically what the state of air quality is in the places they live, work and play.
We will coordinate the data collection process to enable the findings to feed into a broader agenda of what could and should be done in the borough to increase awareness and develop more sustainable solutions. The community’s involvement in discussions around the potential development in St Leonards Priory, Bromley by Bow, is an example where the data from Breathe Clean can help inform what might be done with this green space.
We are currently coordinating efforts with Idling Action London, a participatory campaign group aiming to discourage motorists from leaving their engines on while parked. We have also been exploring how air quality monitoring can be used for project planning; liaising with the council and charity representatives involved in community events organisation in St Leonards Priory Park, Bromley by Bow.
Monitoring will commence in May, 2018 and an introductory workshop, demonstrating how to set up and change the diffusion tubes is scheduled for April. After the six month monitoring period, we will hold a feedback event for participants. In the recent ‘Love Lambeth Air’ project, this event allowed residents to discuss means to improve air quality, reduce personal exposure and establish plans for future action (See here for more details).
Mapping for Change’s work in air quality monitoring has been recognised in the latest report from the Chief Medical Officer (Department of Health and Social Care).
Design for Wellbeing is a multidisciplinary research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The project aims to investigate ‘community severance’; the concept that major transport infrastructure, such as busy roads, can negatively influence elderly people’s physical and psychological wellbeing, by segregating their community and restricting their mobility.
In 2012, the Big Lottery Fund in England invested £1 million in 150 neighbourhoods for its Big Local initiative. Northfleet, Kent, was one of the first 50 to be selected. The grant aimed to equip local communities with skills and tools to identify key areas and issues where action was reqiored in their area.
In 2009, Mapping for Change supported communities across London to measure and map local air quality. Use of a ‘citizen science’ approach meant local residents in seven locations were able to collect data, then see the real results of their monitoring activities, and subsequently embark on a campaign to see the serious results addressed.