What’s in the air, Saltaire?

The air we breath contains thousands of tiny particles that are too small to be seen by the naked eye, but which can have a large impact on our health.  High levels of particulate matter is associated with a range of health problems including asthma, heart disease and some cancers.

The amount particulate matter (PM) in the air in the UK is monitored using a series of national monitoring sites, but only a small number of these sites exist, so they can’t give us a detailed picture of how the levels of PM vary street by street in the area.  For example, we know that cars and lorries produce particulate matter in their exhausts so we would expect higher levels of PM close to busy roads, but we don’t know how far these high concentrations extend away from the roads into houses, parks and gardens.


To find out how the levels of PM vary across Saltaire we are running a monitoring campaign this summer in which we will loan out PM sensors to people within the community.  We are giving people the opportunity to become citizen scientists and contribute to the collection of scientific data on air pollution.

We will use the data to build up a map of the level of particulate matter in the area, which we’ll present at this year’s Saltaire Festival Science Fair.

The project is being run by staff at the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science at the University of Leeds, but we need volunteers to help us shape the research.  Where would you like us to place the monitors?  Would you like monitor your exposure to particulate matter?  With your help we can build up a picture of the level of air pollution in our local community, and contribute to some exciting scientific research.