Airborne pollution scanner maps urban air quality

Airborne pollution scanner maps urban air quality

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UK: Leicester scientists have installed their groundbreaking pollution-detecting technology in a plane to map air quality around the city. University of Leicester physicists used their sophisticated air quality measuring spectrometer to produce striking “heatmap” style images of pollution levels in Leicester as part of the Airborne Air Quality Mapper (AAQM) project.

The images show how levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) vary around the city – revealing the differences in air quality between green, wooded areas and busy road junctions and areas of industry. NO2 comes primarily from traffic emissions in urban environments and can cause health problems – including increased risk of respiratory illnesses such as heart attacks and bronchitis. The results could help draw attention to polluted areas – and help inform future environmental planning decisions.

The Leicester device monitors visible light – and measures how much light is lost at specific wavelengths that are absorbed by NO2. Development of the instrument took place with partner Surrey Satellite Technology and was funded by the UK’s Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation and the Natural Environment Research Council. The instrument also forms a part of a major initiative to improve the UK’s technological leadership in space instrumentation for Earth Observation.

Source: University of Leicester