We reported the other day about the launch of the iSpex-EU project, which is a Europe-wide attempt to monitor air pollution by smart phone.
The more elderly amongst us were reminded of a similar initiative in the mid-1980s when our children were encouraged to measure the acidity of rain on a daily basis and report it as part of national monitoring. There was a piece of kit which looks distinctly Heath Robinson compared to the smart phone attachment (shown below) which is needed for iSpex.
The point is the same, however; to engage (young) people in citizen science in an attempt to learn more about an acute problem of urban living. Whether getting involved proves to be (or not) one of those significant life experiences that turn you on to a lifetime of interest and concern, this seems very worthwhile as the issue is a real one. The Guardian notes a report from King’s College, London published this summer which:
estimates that in London alone around 9,500 premature deaths a year are linked to high levels of air pollution, of which particulates in the air are a component.
Indeed, after smoking “it is the second biggest public health challenge,” says Professor Frank Kelly, an expert in environmental health at the university.
Time to get monitoring again – this time with grandchildren, perhaps.