Praxis/Urban monitors to be used for COVID-19 air quality research

South Coast Science has announced that Cranfield University has selected Praxis/Urban devices for use in a National Environment Research Council (NERC) funded project across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

The project is funded through the UKRI COVID-19 Urgency programme. It will provide much-needed analysis and insight into how to maintain the health benefits emerging from reduced pollutant emissions during the lockdown. Particulate matter data will be collected in four towns of different character and history: Bicester, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Luton.

Input from academia ensures a rigorous scientific approach

The first phase of the project involves close collaboration between Cranfield University, the University of Bedfordshire and Luton Borough Council, as the first particulate readings will be gathered from across Luton. Air quality monitoring in the town will allow researchers to understand the impact of current air quality on health inequalities for its residents.

In later phases, the project will gather air quality data in Milton Keynes, Bedford and Bicester. Collaborations with ongoing air quality studies in Oxford, Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Luton are in development to share data and maximise findings.

Deploying an Air Quality Monitoring Network

The Praxis devices will provide air quality monitoring data to determine background air quality in the areas under study. They have been chosen for their high-quality data specification, which provides a sound context within which to evaluate other measurements.

The map pictured shows the locations of monitoring devices for the project. The green circle shows the reference site at Cranfield and the yellow circles show multi-species sensor nodes. These form the core Arc air quality monitoring network and will enhance measurements from Defra managed AURN (Automatic Urban and Rural Network) sites, which are shown as red circles.

New data gathered as part of this study will be made publicly available, allowing other interested parties to conduct their own analysis. As a manufacturer that values the principles of close collaboration in the pursuit of better outcomes for all, the South Coast Science open-source system invites participation at all levels from the general public, through citizen scientists and academics.

Neil Harris, Professor of Atmospheric Informatics at Cranfield University and project lead said: “According to Public Health England, poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. The plans for growth within the Arc, to boost the UK economy, are ambitious. Our study will help monitor air quality levels in the Arc and provide evidence on possible measures to mitigate the impact of future development on air quality.”

David Johnson, of instrument supplier South Coast Science, added “this is a high profile project and we are pleased to offer products that meet the research requirements. This measurement campaign is likely to be mirrored elsewhere in the coming months and years and now more than ever, policy must be based on robust data that can be relied upon to give context to other measurements.”

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