New Camden real-time pollution sensors show 'unhealthy' borough air

Airscape on mobile and Mac

Airscape on mobile and laptop - Credit: AirLabs

A hyper-local air quality sensor network has launched in Camden with the overall picture in the borough shown as "unhealthy".

Air quality firm Airscape has installed more than 225 Airnode air quality sensors on lampposts and buildings across the borough, in partnership with Camden Council and The Camden Clean Air Initiative.

The network provides 45 times more spatial resolution and refreshes 60 times more regularly than the existing network of air quality reference stations in Camden and captures and reports hyper-local air quality data every minute to map the issue in real time.

The platform can identify daily "incidents" in a street, and extreme pollution differences in time.

The "overall" air quality index (AQI) for the borough, since the sensors were installed, shows as "unhealthy". Data is publicly available at airscape.ai, where levels from individuals sensors can be seen.

An 'overall' map of Camden's air sensors show many parts of the borough being 'very unhealthy'

An "overall" map of Camden's air sensors show many parts of the borough being "very unhealthy" - Credit: Airscape

The council said the "overall" picture is a "representation of the health risk associated with long-term exposure to air pollution, which is more closely linked with adverse health outcomes than short-term exposures".

A spokesperson said Airscape team is also developing an "average" pollution layer for the next version of the map.

The tube strikes on March 1, led to high increases in rush hour nitrogen dioxide "NO2", as more people relied on road transport.

June 17, the hottest day of the year so far, saw unhealthy levels of ozone across the borough. On the same day, a large fire on Chalk Farm Road could be seen igniting and being extinguished on the Airscape platform, with a plume of pollution moving with the south-westly wind to the north east.

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Cllr Adam Harrison, cabinet member for a sustainable Camden, said: “The council’s latest annual air quality data shows an encouraging long-term trend of reducing NO2 levels at Camden’s diffusion tube monitoring sites, as well as an overall downward trend in particulate matter (PM10). Ultra-fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) monitoring data for 2021 shows similar levels to those from the previous year, with Swiss Cottage recording slightly lower. Bloomsbury and Swiss Cottage automatic monitoring sites have now both been compliant with the World Health Organization’s 2005 annual mean guideline standard for PM2.5 (10μg/m3) since 2020."

An Airlabs pollution sensor

An Airlabs pollution sensor - Credit: Airlabs

Camden's Clean Air Action Plan will be published in July for public consultation. 

Dr Matthew Johnson, chief scientific officer at AirScape, said: "Through this project, Airscape is making the invisible, visible."