Researchers are investigating how much of the toxic exhaust fumes at street level are, in fact, still reaching residents living inside high-rise buildings hundreds of feet above. Findings from the two and a half year pilot research project could prove vital for the increasing number of people now living in crowded and severely polluted megacities as buildings continue to be constructed skywards.
Scientists from King’s College London, The University of Hong Kong, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, and the University of British Columbia, are examining pollution at 100 selected polluted sites and a further 200 ‘passive’ locations across the archipelago. Small sensors continuously measuring a range of air pollutants have been positioned inside and outside high-rise apartment blocks in the city where more than 40% of people live up higher than the 14th floor. The tallest building in Hong Kong is 118 stories tall (484 m/1,588ft) and there are scores of blocks of 50 to 70 stories plus.
Dr Benjamin Barratt of King’s Environmental Research Group said: ‘City-scale three dimensional models have never been explored before (in urban pollution monitoring) and monitoring pollution in such environments can be quite challenging. Developments in miniature air sensors, coupled with rapid advancements in 2D urban pollution modelling mean that this ambitious project is now feasible.
‘Hong Kong is an ideal urban laboratory for this research. It has very high canyons and very high population density. Pollution becomes trapped between the buildings and it is likely that this infiltrates into homes.
Sensors will be placed both inside and outside high-rise adjoining buildings (‘street canyons’) to measure pollution levels. The next stage is to map the pollution levels against existing hospital records of residents - where harmful fine particles from pollution are the suspected cause behind many respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
The research team’s overall objective is to develop a three-dimensional modelling methodology that can be translated to other street canyons and megacities across the world.
Item date 18/09/2014