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Low-Cost Sensors Could Provide Air Pollution Detection Breakthrough

Low-Cost Sensors Could Provide Air Pollution Detection Breakthrough
24 August 2023

A trial at the HS2 construction site at Curzon Street has demonstrated that low-cost sensors could determine sources of air pollution.

The study, published in npj Climate and Atmospheric Science demonstrates how low-cost sensors, which are much cheaper than existing regulation alternatives, can be used to manage air quality in a range of applications including industrial settings and traffic.

The new methodology can determine the specific sources of air pollution, which is currently a challenging and labour-intensive process that requires specialised laboratories. Francis Pope, Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Birmingham and senior author of the paper said: “Successful air quality management and control not only requires measurement of air pollution levels, but it also requires information on the sources and their relative importance. Without this critical, targeted information on pollution sources, it is difficult to plan and enact cost-effective control measures with which to reduce air pollution. Low-cost sensors already help in the measurement of air quality but there is still a major gap for source apportionment."

These sensors also have the potential to be installed at roadside sites or other local pollution hotspots. An installation of sensors in the village of Charlbury, Oxfordshire demonstrates the potential for their use with the methodology to understand variations in pollution in local environments.


HS2 Cursor Street Site Trialling Air Pollution Sensors


The HS2 construction site at Curzon Street in Birmingham is one of the sites used to test the new methodology. The team were able to identify two hotspots of particle emissions on the site, as well as being able to filter out background pollution.

Andrea Davidson, Head of Environmental Sciences for HS2 Ltd said: “HS2 has ambitious environmental targets, including dust mitigation, strict emission standards and moving to all diesel-free construction sites by 2029, aimed at reducing impacts on local air quality. This is a great example of how HS2 works with researchers and manufacturers to support positive change across the construction sector. Advances in dust monitoring, like this, will increase confidence in controls, and support the whole sector’s move towards cleaner construction.”

Picture: a CGI showing the proposed exterior of the Curzon Street site. Image Credit: HS2

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 24 August 2023


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