EarthSense, the air quality specialist, announced that its project with Southampton City Council has won the Best Air Quality Strategy (Public Sector) in the Westminster Commission for Road Air Quality Awards.
EarthSense has been working with Southampton City Council to deliver an innovative air quality project to monitor particulate matter emissions from domestic wood burning.
Formed as a part of the Council’s new Air Quality Engagement Programme under its recently adopted Air Quality Action Plan, the campaign aims to help inform residents of the impact of wood burning on their health and the health of their community and help them take steps to burn better and, where possible, burn less.
Particulate matter and wood burning have risen rapidly on the air quality agenda over the past five years, partly as a result of the growing awareness of the harms of fine particulate matter, and the resurgence of wood burners as a heating source in many UK homes.
Southampton City Council is using EarthSense’s air quality services after receiving a grant from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). 18 EarthSense Zephyr® monitors have been installed around residential areas, and neighbouring local authority areas, to gather localised, real-time measurements of PM2.5.
Local charity, the Environment Centre, is also collaborating on the project and using the data from EarthSense’s services to give residents an understanding of how wood burning is contributing directly to poor air quality in their communities.
For example, EarthSense’s MappAir® technology, a near real-time, high-resolution air quality model, provides visualisations of woodburning emissions, using advanced modelling techniques to provide a picture of PM2.5 dispersion. This allows residents to click anywhere on a map and get an idea of air quality in their local area.
Early data from the Zephyr® monitors suggest that PM2.5 levels can triple during periods of burning and while it is difficult to attribute PM2.5 concentration reductions directly to the campaign, it is estimated that it would result in an increase of 0.5 per cent in uptake of Ecolabel stoves and a one per cent decrease in emissions per appliance through successful behaviour change, saving around 8.6 tonnes of PM2.5 per year.
George O’Ferrall, Sustainable Projects Lead (Air Quality) at Southampton City Council, said: ”The Council is delighted to have received the award for Best Air Quality Strategy (Public Sector) through our work with EarthSense on this project. The award recognises this innovative approach to monitoring and modelling air quality across the city to support the behaviour change and the wider Air Quality Action Plan. We’re looking forward to making the most out of the system going forwards by using MappAir® in further projects including tackling pollution at schools and through the healthcare system, and seeing how we can address areas of specific public health concern in the city.”
EarthSense Managing Director, Tom Hall said: “We’re delighted that Southampton City Council has received this accolade for the project and we’re proud to be a part of it. Using Defra’s damage cost values, it’s estimated that the campaign will contribute to roughly £643,013 a year in health impacts being avoided through behaviour changes.
“We look forward to seeing an increased trend in wood-burning monitoring from other local authorities in an effort to help reduce air pollution from wood-burning fires.” continued Hall.
About Southampton City Council:
Southampton City Council is the local authority of the city of Southampton. It is a unitary authority, having the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. It provides a full range of local government services including council tax billing, libraries, social services, processing planning applications, waste collection and disposal, and it is a local education authority. Learn more on their website at: https://www.southampton.gov.uk/.