Air pollution monitoring underway to support sustainable transport choices in Manchester, UK


A new air-quality monitoring pilot is underway in Manchester, UK, which is aiming to understand how transport decisions affect air quality.

The pilot is using two EarthSense Zephyr air quality monitors to measure localised real-time changes in nitrogen dioxide (NO2­­), nitric oxide (NO), ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM­1, PM2.5 and PM10), in conjunction with EarthSense’s MappAir air ODM PRquality dispersion model to highlight pollution levels for the wider Chorlton area of the city.

The solar-powered Zephyr monitors have been installed in Chorlton, with one static unit attached to a lamppost at a major crossroad in the centre, and one mobile unit that will be moved between a school, commercial area and residential neighbourhood.

EarthSense managing director, Tom Hall says: “Understanding how pollution-heavy vehicles impact air quality levels throughout neighbourhoods is vital when it comes to encouraging community action. Using Zephyr monitors to identify pollution levels at specific locations, such as that throughout Chorlton, provides real-time data to show exactly how baselines can change over time when sustainable initiatives are introduced.

“Modelled MappAir data can be used to ‘fill in the gaps’ for locations without Zephyr air quality monitors. The addition of modeling data allows for a complete understanding of air pollution levels and trends throughout Chorlton and will be able to reveal whether the introduction of sustainable transport decisions helps to reduce elevated levels of pollution in the town.”

To provide live data, the Zephyr monitors have an active sampling mechanism that takes samples of ambient air every 10 seconds to provide measures for pollutants. The data will be fed into Open Data Manchester’s GitHub, where the information will be curated weekly and accessible to the public.

The Our Streets Chorlton group will also share insights from the air quality data on its website to demonstrate how air quality changes over time and how human activity impacts on air quality throughout the day.

Collated data will be presented to the community to highlight the impact of transport emissions on the environment and demonstrate the effect it has on surrounding pollution concentrations.

EarthSense’s air quality monitoring service, along with traffic monitoring and online surveys, will help the local community to understand more about transport choices and their effect on pollution.

Future initiatives, focussed on reducing air pollution levels and related issues about tackling climate change, will also be evidenced, such as encouraging behavior change locally, including choosing to travel by foot.

At the end of the project, Our Streets Chorlton will use its learnings to create a toolkit that will be accessible to other communities that want to know how understanding air pollution can help achieve climate goals.

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).