Green Party MP Caroline Lucas praises “trailblazing researchâ€? at the University of Brighton as she cuts the tape on new station
A new £250,000 ‘first of its kind’ advanced air quality monitoring station was officially unveiled at the University of Brighton by local Green Party MP Caroline Lucas on Friday (December 18).
Installed at the University’s Falmer campus, the monitoring station is reportedly the first in the UK dedicated to the detection of harmful, nano-sized particles and their gaseous precursors.
According to the University’s Air Environment Research (AER) team, the station will “push the boundaries of our capabilities and enhance our understanding of the harmful air pollutants that we breatheâ€?.
The station was funded by the Interreg IVB NWE programme and the University of Brighton as part of the Joint Air Quality Initiative (JOAQUIN). It is part of a wider ‘next-generation’ monitoring network spread across North West Europe.
The black carbon monitor was supplied by Air Monitors, while TSI supplied the UFP and particle counter, while Enviro Technology supplied of the DOAS (Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy).
The AER team will use the station to investigate a range of modern day air pollutants, including so-called ‘ultrafine particles’, which are nanometer-sized material suspended in the air that is capable of penetrating deeply into the human body where it can cause a range of negative health effects.
Ms Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavillion, praised the University’s “trailblazing researchâ€? and congratulated it for “breaking new ground and showing real leadershipâ€?.
Unveiling the new monitoring station, she said: “One of the lessons I have learned is that although air pollution quite often is invisible it really is a massive problem. It is responsible for literally thousands of premature deaths.â€?
She added: “What will come out of this research I hope will be more pressure on policy makers to take more action to reduce air pollution. I hope the university’s research will accelerate moves to improve air quality and tackle this scourge on people’s health.â€?
Atmospheric scientists from the University’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences – Dr Kevin Wyche and Dr Kirsty Smallbone, who led the project – were also on hand to help unveil the monitor last week.
The two scientists explained that Falmer was chosen to host the station as it represents a genuine background: “If you are in the middle of the city, kerbside on a specific major road or adjacent to any other such source, measurements will be biased by that source rather than representing a more general average.â€?
They added that as Brighton is still exceeding air quality limits set by the government, it is “crucial that we enhance our understanding of the relationships that exist between pollutants and healthâ€? adding that the station will “provide unparalleled insight into the kinds of pollutants we breathe, their complex interactions and how they evolveâ€?.
They said: “It will give us the unique ability to provide policy makers, scientists and the general public with the vital information required to help improve the quality of our air and protect our health.â€?