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National monitoring campaign will find out the sources of different pollutants

A new national monitoring campaign will aim to find out more about air pollution. 

The six-week-long study is the largest measurement campaign at the UK’s urban air quality supersites to date.

The project aims to build a clear picture of what pollutants are being released in urban areas, and how chemicals react in the atmosphere to form secondary pollutants.

Researchers from the University of York will be measuring emissions of solvents and other short-lived chemicals at the Manchester site in June and July.

The intense monitoring schedule will allow scientists to pinpoint new and emerging pollution trends, and quantify urban pollution sources, such as tyre and brake emissions, wood-burning and cooking emissions.

person walking on seashore

The scientists say significant changes in the types and sources of pollutants are likely in the years ahead, and this has already been observed during the pandemic.

The evidence will then support regional authorities to develop made-to-measure air pollution controls, which respond to changing sources of pollution.

The research will also feed into wider efforts to manage air pollution across the country, which are expected to be announced later this year as part of the government’s Environment Bill.

Professor James Lee, from the Department of Chemistry and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science said: ‘Poor air quality is the largest environmental health risk in the UK. We know pollution emissions are changing, but it’s uncertain how this will affect the air we breathe.

‘We are testing whether all sources of pollution are fully accounted for, and aiming to provide evidence that allows pollution controls to have the biggest possible benefits for our health and our environment.’

Dr James Allan, from the National Centre for Science and the University of Manchester added: ‘We’re seeing a snapshot of the atmosphere at an enhanced level of detail. By carrying out many specialist measurements at the same time and in the same place, we’re maximising the information we get.’

Photo by Yi Chun Chen

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