The DIY solution for measuring air pollution in St George

January 06 2020
The DIY solution for measuring air pollution in St George

A GROUP trying to tackle air pollution in St George has set up its own monitors to record the illegal levels of dangerous gas and particles people are breathing in.

St George Breathing Better was given money from the UWE Community Fund to fund a workshop to build eight ‘citizen sensors’, which are now dotted around the area.

They measure levels of poisonous nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter and provide data for a scheme to capture hour-by-hour pollution levels. A map showing levels recorded in Bristol can be found online at the Air Apparent site using the shortcut

The group has also re-launched an anti-idling campaign to persuade drivers not to keep their engines running while parked or stopped outside schools.

Jo Chesterman, from the Breathing Better group, said: "There is a known hot spot in St George for nitrogen dioxide – immediately outside Summerhill Infants School. Action to address this is well overdue and by campaigning for nearly two years, this is finally being given attention by the council. Summerhill Infants and Summerhill Academy have asked to be part of a School Streets pilot, where traffic is diverted away from the school at drop-off and pick-up."

Jo says it is "baffling" that the area has not been prioritised for action by the council, which is setting up clean air and diesel ban zones closer to the city centre, given the daily congestion on the A420 and increasing number of domestic wood-burning stoves – the two major causes of air pollution.

The council is investigating whether to make the top of Plummers Hill a no right-turn junction, changing the sequencing of the traffic lights at St George Fountain and moving the pedestrian crossing outside Summerhill Infants to reduce the amount of idling traffic emitting exhaust fumes around the school.

Jo said: "At this time of year many people seem to feel justified in sitting in a parked car with the engine running. What the group fears is that people do not realise how much high pollution from a car engine comes into the vehicle itself, as well as affecting people walking past – its up to nine to 12 times higher inside the car!"

Air pollution has been linked to cancer, heart conditions, strokes, respiratory diseases, poor brain and lung development, type 2 diabetes, miscarriage and low birth weight.

Jo added: "Putting yourself and your fellow passengers at risk of these health problems so that you can be cosy doesn’t really add up, does it?"

The group has also commissioned a short film to spread knowledge about air pollution.

Anyone who wants to get involved in can do so via St George Breathing Better on Facebook.