• Brighton Unveils First of its Kind Air Monitor on University Campus

Air Monitoring

Brighton Unveils First of its Kind Air Monitor on University Campus

Jan 09 2016

In the run-up to Christmas last year, while everyone else was engaged in a mad scramble to get the last of their shopping done and wrapping up their presents, the University of Brighton was quietly unveiling a revolutionary new air monitor on its campus.

The monitoring station, which cost in the region of £250,000, was introduced to the public by Caroline Lucas, the local Green Party MP for the area, on December 18th. What makes the station so impressive is its ability to measure nano-sized particles which can infiltrate the human body and cause dire health consequences.

A Deadly Problem

Among other pollutants able to be monitored by the new machine are ‘ultra-fine particles’, which are contaminants only nanometres in size and which can be breathed through our lungs. Once inhaled, these particles can then find their way into our bloodstream and cause serious long-term health complications, such as respiratory problems, heart disease and strokes.

Ms Lucas congratulated the University on its forward-thinking commitment to improving air quality. “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,” she told crowds as she unveiled the station.

“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.”

Sophisticated Equipment

The monitoring station combines several different pieces of highly evolved equipment to provide a more comprehensive overview of the air we breathe than ever before. Funded by the University of Brighton and Interreg IVB NWE programme, the venture forms part of the Joint Air Quality Initiative (JOAQUIN).

The University’s Air Environment Research (AER) team oversaw the combination of three distinct air monitoring apparatuses to form the station. Firstly, Air Monitors supplied the device responsible for collecting data about black carbon, which has become ever more prominent and pertinent in modern air quality monitoring methods.

Meanwhile, Enviro Technology provided the differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) and TSI supplied the ultra-fine particle counter. Together, the different components help to make the Brighton station the most advanced of its kind in the UK.

A Perfect Location

Brighton was chosen as the location for the new machine due to its ongoing problems with air quality. As yet, the city has not met EU targets for keeping pollution levels at an acceptable level.

The University itself was chosen due to its precise location in town, which should give a fair and average reading of contaminant levels around the town. “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,” explained Dr Kirsty Smallbone and Dr Kevin Wynche, the two lead scientists on the project.

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