Every Breath we Take

HOW DID WE DO IT?

Measuring air quality during Covid-19 lockdown (the period from mid-April to early May) provided a benchmark against which to assess the deterioration in air quality as the lockdown is eased. At that time, readings were made over twelve locations with three sets of readings taken per day (morning, lunchtime and late afternoon) at each location. Each set comprised of an overall index and six main pollutants, giving 1700 pollutant readings in total. Three pollutants – nitrogen dioxide, PM10 particulates and PM 2.5 particulates were selected for detailed analysis.

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The monitoring exercise was repeated during the week commencing 8th June. Fourteen locations were monitored i.e. three additional locations and one location replaced from the first set of measurements. The results of this exercise are reported here with 2050 readings, and compared with April/May results.

Breezometer, which registers air quality using a mobile phone app, was used to assess the concentrations of these pollutants and this proved easy to use, flexible (air quality can be assessed in any location without travel) and freely available. No reliance is placed on the overall Breezometer Quality Index (BQI) nor on the coloured maps which are based on the BQI. These are possibly useful for the resident who wants a simple idea of air pollution, but as with any index, they are limited in use and potentially misleading. The specific pollution readings are found by accessing the Air Quality screen on the front page and then scrolling down to the section “What Am I Breathing Right Now?”

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