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Sandwell Council displays air quality data in faith centres

Unveiling of the monitor at Jamia Mosque
Image source: Unveiling of the monitor at Jamia Mosque from EarthSense

Sandwell Council has begun to collect and display air quality data on monitors placed in local mosques.

It has said that the project, using Zephyr monitors from EarthSense along with a public data portal, is aimed at increasing understanding about the need for behavioural change to improve local air quality.

The council has installed the monitors at eight faith centres, including the Smethwick Jamia Mosque (pictured), the Church of St Francis Assissi in Wednesbury, and Hindu temple Shree Pashupatinath Mandir in Rowley Regis.

They take live measurements of harmful gases and particulates in the air, such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitric oxide (NO), ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5, PM10). The data is modelled to provide context for the locations and displayed through the EarthSense MyAir portal and can also be accessed through computers, tablets, or smartphones.

Sandwell has also developed a toolkit for faith leaders with information about indoor and outdoor air pollution, information for local businesses, methods of community engagement and more. This can be used for interventions to reduce local air pollution.

It is also using 15 additional Zephyr units in other locations.

Invisible issue

Its deputy director of public health, Paul Fisher, said: “Air quality is often an invisible issue, and its impacts are often not well understood by those in our local communities.  The Zephyr air quality monitors and the MyAir public portal are proving to be essential tools in helping us to make this significant threat to health visible.”

He added: "Sandwell’s air quality officers have also been busy delivering air quality talks to faith centres and encouraging faith leaders and their congregations to take steps to reduce their impact and as well as encouraging others to do the same.

“We have already seen many positive actions including tree planting, car free days, anti-idling campaigns as well as the adoption of energy reduction measures in their centres and homes.”

The council has indicated that after 12 months it will use EarthSense’s reporting service to enable faith leaders to report their findings, which will be discussed at a conference.

The reports will include insight into weekly, monthly, and quarterly averages of NO2, PM2.5 and PM10, exceedances above national air quality objectives, and days and times with the highest and lowest levels of pollution on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. They will also include meteorological data to assist with the interpretation of the results.

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