Why Particulate Matters: The New Focus for Air Quality

Clean air is essential for people’s health, the environment and improving living standards, which is why it has long been high on local councils’ agendas. Many councils have taken the lead to deploy air quality monitoring units and doing a great job in monitoring air quality across the region with a view of implementing the necessary changes to tackle any highlighted issues.

However, increased pressure has been placed on local authorities to address the ever-increasing issues around air pollution. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, said that the UK has ‘failed to properly live up to our ambitions to improve air quality’, he also states that the UK government must ensure themselves to be ‘pace-setters and not laggards’ when it comes to addressing the issues around air quality. The focus, which was driven by World Health Organisation (WHO), was predominantly on Particulate Matter, which many UK cities are currently struggling to meet the softer EU set targets, clearly emphasising a need for transformation.

The majority of the UK’s attention with regards to Air Pollution has been directed towards Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2), however Particulate Matter, specifically Particulate Matter 2.5 has become a paramount concern; in areas like Nottingham and Birmingham limits set by WHO have been exceeded. A campaign group called Clean Air Nottingham, estimates that PM 2.5 is killing 150 people in Nottingham each year. Whilst in Birmingham, a recent study has been put together which analyses levels of both NO2 and PM2.5 and has calculated an 8-year-old child could die up to seven months early if exposed to too much toxic air. The dangers of PM2.5 are that you can’t see it and its often hard to identify where its coming from. With the idea that electric vehicles (EV) will help dissolve the problem of NO2 and CO2 in the citys, many people are unaware of the effects and causes of Particulate Matter, some of the causes are commonly related to vehicles, whether that be electric, diesel or petrol. Particulate matter is often given off from tailpipe emissions which releases pollutants into the air which in turn nitrates particles, contributing to the release of PM2.5. However, the greatest source of PM2.5 comes from non-tailpipe emissions, whether you have an electric car or a diesel car, Particulate Matter arises from the wear of brakes, tyres and road surfaces. These sources are not currently subject to regulatory controls, and they currently contribute more than exhaust emissions.

Councils are doing their best to address the issues around air pollution, however, with constant budget cuts and the already small pot of money available to spend on tackling the issues, they are struggling to meet the targets set. On top of this, similar to the example around PM2.5 address earlier in this article, more and more pollutants are being identified as common causes to the quality of the air, which is increasing the need for councils to measure these pollutants while remaining under budget.

Our service has been tailored to allow you to implement programmes without utilising significant local authority resources or at a huge cost. The service includes the design, install and reporting of a comprehensive range of pollutants, smartly presented on our in-house dashboard. The dashboard allows for a real-time display of the data collected, whilst delivering the ability for councils to spot trends correlating to the time and location of any given pollutant. We will subsequently work alongside the council to use this data set to aid them develop a unique Air Quality strategy specifically designed to address the problems highlighted. We additionally have a number of solutions available from waste management, vermin control, street lighting, asset tracking and many more – please don’t hesitate to get in touch should you wish to discuss your individual requirements and unique situation with a view to exploring your options.

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Whether you’re a local authority looking to incorporate IoT technologies to improve urban management – whether in the field of Air Quality or otherwise – or you’d like to discuss the benefits of reliable, blanket public WiFi to your town or city, we’d love to explain more about who we are and what we do.

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