Imperial College London

Free air sensors to help Londoners monitor toxic air in their neighbourhood


An Ultra Low Emission Zone sign in London

Community groups in London are being offered free air quality sensors to monitor pollution levels in their local area.

The Breathe London community programme, funded by the Mayor of London and Bloomberg Philanthropies, is to award 60 free air quality sensors to local London communities, providing access to real time air quality data.

The programme aims to reach communities that research shows have poor air quality and lack access to green space, including low-income and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Londoners. The sensors are being provided to some community groups and boroughs free of charge, but for the first time, Breathe London air quality monitoring sensors are also now available to purchase directly by organisations and individuals wishing to monitor air quality in their local area, measure the impact of existing schemes to improve air quality, or help communities lobby for action in areas with high levels of toxic pollution.

Poor air quality stunts the growth of children’s lungs and worsens chronic illnesses such as asthma, lung and heart disease. A study by Imperial College London’s Environmental Research Group, commissioned by City Hall via Imperial Projects, has found that the Mayor’s 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.

Dr Ben Barratt, Reader in Environmental Exposures & Public Health said: “This next phase of development of the Breathe London network really puts air quality monitoring into the hands of London’s communities. We’re genuinely excited to see the inspiring and impactful uses to which these monitors will be put by Londoners to improve the health and environment of their neighbourhoods and our city“.

Comprehensive and scalable network

Breathe London aims to create a comprehensive and scalable air quality sensor network for London’s communities; making air quality data easily accessible and empowering Londoners with evidence to inform the change they want to see. Organisations wishing to purchase a sensor can now do so via the Breathe London website. Sensors are an annual cost of £1600 plus VAT.

Kew Gardens, The Serpentine Gallery, the National Gallery, the British Library and the Science Museum will be joining the network to host a sensor on their sites to form a ‘cultural network’, sharing data and information with their visitors and supporters.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The new air quality sensors we are announcing today with Bloomberg Philanthropies is an important part of our work to raise awareness of toxic air pollution across London, making it easier for Londoners to monitor air quality in their local area.”

Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, said: “Air pollution is a deadly problem in cities all over the world, and technology is giving us new ways to measure it and understand its effects. By putting that technology in the hands of communities, this partnership will empower people to push for smart policies and give elected leaders the data they need to save lives in London. It will also encourage other cities to act – and it’s a great example of how collaboration can accelerate progress on the big challenges we face.

The Breathe London Network is managed by the Environmental Research Group at Imperial College London, through Imperial Projects.


Jack Stewart

Jack Stewart
School of Public Health

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