A new £250,000 air quality monitoring station at the University of Brighton came in for praise after a visit by Green MEP Keith Taylor this week (March 31).
Situated at the University’s Falmer campus, the research station is capable of monitoring a wide range of pollutants and is the first in the UK to detect harmful nano-sized particles “and their gaseous precursersâ€?.
Funded by the EU’s Interreg IVB NWE programme and the University of Brighton as part of the Joint Air Quality Initiative (JOAQUIN), the ‘first of its kind’ station was first unveiled in December 2015 by local MP Caroline Lucas (see AirQualityNews.com story).
According to the University, it comprises part of a wider ‘next-generation’ monitoring network spread across North West Europe and will be used by its Air Environment Research (AER) team to investigate a range of modern day air pollutants.
The station’s 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).
Visiting this week, Mr Taylor – a Green Party MEP for South East England who sits on the EU Parliament’s environmental health committee – was shown around the new facility by Dr Kirsty Smallbone from the University’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences.
Commenting after the visit, Mr Taylor said: “The project here is researching ultra-fine particles which have not yet received much scientific study yet represent a real danger to human health.
“All over the UK local authorities are recognising the challenges air pollution represents and we have to use whatever we can to improve human health and save lives” – Keith Taylor MEP
“All over the UK local authorities are recognising the challenges air pollution represents and we have to use whatever we can to improve human health and save lives.â€?
According to lead researcher Dr Smallbone, while plants can be the source of nano-particles, it is the man-made particles such as those from traffic that can be mitigated. She therefore suggested that traffic-free city centres, congestion charges and more affordable public transport were possible answers to this problem.
Meanwhile, children and vulnerable adults are also at risk from indoor air pollution inside schools, hospitals and other public buildings.
Welcoming the MEP’s visit, Dr Smallbone said: “It is crucial that we enhance our understanding of the relationships that exist between pollutants and health, and the station will provide a solid platform for us to do just this; it will provide unparalleled insight into the kinds of pollutants we breathe, their complex interactions and how they evolve.
“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€?