There’s a great project, started last year by Andy Broomfield, called Breathing London. It takes the data from air quality monitoring stations across London, and tweets their changes in human readable language, like this:
It frequently pops up on my radar, as there is a monitoring station on the border of Blackheath & Greenwich.
You can see graphs of the air quality across London as a whole on the London Air Quality Network site, but it is also possible to drill-down to specific monitoring stations, and look at the air pollution for the last week, or last month.
Here’s the data for the station in Blackheath. The actual location of the station is here (see the photo above from Google Streetview).
You can follow BreathingLondon on Twitter, and there’s a detailed explanation of how the air pollution monitoring works here.
The summary for Blackheath says that last year the area was within government targets for air quality, except for Nitrogen Dioxide, which was at 60 microgrammes (µg) per cubic metre. According to the London Air Quality Network site:
At very high levels, nitrogen dioxide gas irritates and inflames the airways of the lungs. This irritation causes a worsening of symptoms of those with lung or respiratory diseases.
From the City of London Air Quality Strategy 2011-2015 pdf:
At present there are two health based objectives that have been set for nitrogen dioxide. The first is to make sure hourly concentrations do not go above 200µg/m3, for more than 18 hours in any year. The second objective is to ensure that the annual average is no greater than 40µg/ m3.
Interesting article here about how Blackheath should respond to the coming Peak Oil moment. http://transitionwestcombe.blogspot.com/2008/12/transition-westcombe-upcoming-article.html
The montage above is by me – I know it’s not great, just to give a sense of how we may end up!). It is based on a couple of images. The heath image is by Nicobobinus and the turbines are by jespis. Both are creative commons licensed, as is my montage.
Initially I thought it was a “Do Not Disturb” sign on our wheelie bin. Our flats have been marked out. We are officially warned. Someone has been putting the wrong rubbish in the wrong bins. It wasn’t me or Mrs Bugle, I swear, honest… I’m just wondering if they will start daubing our front doors with paint next.
But the photograph above does throw up an interesting point. Looking at all the blogs around here, you’d think it would be easy to draw a conclusion about how our recycling schemes are going. The Phantom had a great piece about how the Greenwich Recycling plant works, but then I read in The Last Bus Home that it might not be so great after all. They quote another post by a Lib-Dem councillor who makes the point that the government sets recycling targets by the tonne, not by the quality of the recycling.
This means that they don’t really care what happens to our glass and paper waste, so long as it doesn’t go into landfill. So our glass doesn’t get melted down back into glass bottles, it gets turned into road gravel. And our paper doesn’t get turned back into paper, but gets shipped to Malaysia instead?!
I’m still glad that it isn’t ending up as landfill, but the carbon cost must be as much of a concern as the landfill.
Wouldn’t the pollutants involved in shipping all that paper halfway round the world be worse than just burning it in the first place?