Can I monitor air pollution?

Not easily - monitoring air pollution is a complex scientific process. The measurements of air pollutants disseminated on the London Air Quality Network are generated by specialist equipment which costs tens of thousands of pounds. This provides measurements which can reliably be used to assess exposure, affect government policy and keep the public informed.

There are cheaper methods of measuring some of the gaseous pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide, using diffusion tubes. These cost only tens of pounds and can be kept in place for a few weeks and then sent to a laboratory for analysis. These only provide an average concentration and are also less accurate than the equipment used on the LAQN.

Recent advances in small sensors offer of exciting opportunities for citizen science and for people to measure their own pollution exposure. However these sensors are normally based on techonolgies that were first developed for workplaces and they can give misleading results when used to measure the pollution that we experience in everyday London.

Monitoring indoor air quality can be tricky, as there are many possible sources of pollution, and it can be hard to know where and when to measure.


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