Surprising findings on air quality in SE London

The results of a study illustrating how the public are exposed to large variations in pollution concentrations as they go about their normal day were presented at a public meeting on 16th January 2013. The study was funded by through the GSTFT/KCL NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and launched the South East London Air Quality Community Group.

This demonstration study involved seven residents of south London carrying portable pollution (black carbon) monitors and GPS watches as they went about their normal daily activities. The volunteers included a pensioner, a cycle courier, an ambulance driver and a school pupil. Despite its simple design, the results revealed some important and surprising indicators about exposure to traffic pollution such as:

  • Over a 24 hour period, the ambulance driver was exposed to the highest levels of pollution due to traffic exhaust entering the cab of his vehicle.
  • The pollution levels the cycle courier was exposed to during the day were half those of the ambulance driver.
  • Despite its location in central London, the lowest pollution levels were within the office worker’s building.
  • More than a quarter of the toddler’s total exposure for the day occurred in just two hours, during the journey to and from her nursery in a push chair.
  • The school pupil was exposed to more pollution travelling on the bus, than walking home along quieter streets.
  • The pensioner’s exposure levels were relatively high as he travelled around London more than the other volunteers.

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