What is this project all about?

We’re co-ordinating a team of volunteers using portable air quality monitors to track air quality at key hotspots and along routes in and around St Andrews. Hotspots include those with high levels of pedestrian or vehicle activity, such as Market Street, near local primary schools, St Andrews Bus Station and others. If there’s a particular street or area you’d like us to focus on, please get in touch!

We’re currently working on developing a Public Dashboard, where anyone will be able to view and explore the data we gather in a street-by-street map.

What is air pollution and what are the risks?

Air pollution is the number one environmental health risk worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is attributed to the premature death of around 7 million people around the world and estimates show that the cost of air pollution related healthcare could reach £127.5 billion by 2060.

Air pollutants are varied in nature (particles as small as a micron or gas to as big as a grain of sand), and can be emitted as a result of human activities or they can be naturally occurring—indoors and out.

Air pollution can affect everyone, and air in all areas of the UK contains some proportion of man-made air pollutants. Exposure to air pollution has various different health effects, which come about at every stage of life, from a foetus’ first weeks in the womb all the way through to old age. The health effects of air pollution are complex, and range in severity of impact. In some cases, damage can be gradual and may not become apparent for many years.

What equipment will I be using and what will I be measuring?

Flow is an air quality monitor for the rest of us. It was designed to take pollution measurement out of the lab and into the public’s hands. Given the technical constraints this mission adds to the design of such a device, Flow is best-in-class for accuracy and reliability over time. Flow connects with your smartphone and allows us to map hotspots and corridors.

In scientific terms, Flow is at 90 to 95% correlation with static reference monitors in benchmark tests for the core pollutants we measure PM1, PM2.5, PM10, NO2 & VOCs.

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)

NO2 primarily gets in the air from the burning of fuel. NO2 forms from emissions from cars, trucks and buses, power plants, and off-road equipment.

Breathing air with a high concentration of NO2 can irritate airways in the human respiratory system.

NO2 and other NOX interact with water, oxygen and other chemicals in the atmosphere to form acid rain.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a large group of chemicals that are found in many products we use to build and maintain our homes. Breathing in low levels of VOCs for long periods of time may increase some people’s risk of health problems.

Several studies suggest that exposure to VOCs may make symptoms worse for people with asthma or who are particularly sensitive to chemicals.

Particulate Matter

Particulate matter is the sum of all solid and liquid particles suspended in air.

This complex mixture includes both organic and inorganic particles, such as dust, pollen, soot, smoke, and liquid
droplets. These particles vary greatly in size, composition, and origin.

Long-term exposure to ambient PM concentrations may lead to a marked reduction in life expectancy.