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King’s College London develops air pollution app


The British Safety Council has backed the use of an app developed by King’s College London to give outdoor workers information on air quality.

It has aligned the launch of the Canairy app with its Time to Breath campaign, which is aimed at drawing attention to the risks of air pollution to outdoor workers.

The app, which runs on iOS and Android platforms, draws on the London Air Quality Network (LAQN) pollution map at King’s and the GPS on the worker’s mobile phone to calculate their exposure to bad air quality on an hourly basis.

Once this exceeds the World Health Organisation’s limits for the concentration of nitrogeon dioxide, particulates and ozone, the app notifies the user with tips to reduce their exposure, such as moving away from traffic or putting up a screen barrier.

It also collects information to enable the mapping of where and to what degree the exposure is happening in an area. Employers will be able to access anonymised exposure data in scheduling work for their employees.

Call to employers

The British Safety Council is now calling on employers in London to join those trialing the app. This could help to build an accurate picture of the exposure to pollution faced by outdoor workers.

Andrew Grieve, senior air quality analyst at King’s, said: “The app gathers data from the London network, the most advanced urban air quality monitoring network in the world, which, combined with traffic data and topographical information, produces the most sophisticated model for pollution we have in the UK.

“We hope that the information provided by the app can be used to inform health risk assessments and contribute to scheduling work that reduces exposure. Crucially, it can also help employers and workers to monitor their progress in avoiding unhealthy levels of pollution.”

Air pollution is linked to thousands of early deaths each year, with research at King’s suggesting that it accounts for nearly 9,400 deaths per year in London alone.

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