PROPOSAL AIR POLLUTION: A PROJECT MONITORING CURRENT AIR POLLUTION LEVELS AND PROVIDING EDUCATION IN AND AROUND SCHOOLS IN CAMDEN

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1 PROPOSAL AIR POLLUTION: A PROJECT MONITORING CURRENT AIR POLLUTION LEVELS AND PROVIDING EDUCATION IN AND AROUND SCHOOLS IN CAMDEN Vivek Deva Supervisors: Dr Audrey de Nazelle, Dr Joanna Laurson- Doube The vast expansion of the City of London over the last century has led to large amounts of construction and a transport system that is at breaking point. With all this, the quality of the local air has inevitably suffered. These processes have meant that we have seen increases in Nitrogen Oxides, Particulate Matter and Ozone. Such pollutants have been proven to have detrimental effects on humans and the environment. This study aims to investigate the Nitrogen Dioxide levels at nine schools in Camden and aims to analyse possible mitigation measures that can be implemented. The study will use techniques and systems such as SPSS to analyse the relevant air quality data.

2 Introduction This proposal is based around a citizen science-based project; it will involve working in conjunction with a citizen group and nine schools in the London Borough of Camden, to understand air pollution exposure in and around the schools. The project will involve engaging pupils and teachers at the schools through presentations and lessons. Nitrogen Dioxide diffusion tubes will be placed in strategic locations in and around all of the schools. An in depth analysis of the key differences in Nitrogen Dioxide concentrations will take place, micro-scale factors will be a key feature of this analysis. Recommendations will be made for mitigating air pollution exposure in schools based on analysis of Nitrogen Dioxide concentrations and the literature review. Background In the past, the main source of the air pollution problems in London was the high levels of smoke and sulphur dioxide. This all came from the combustion of sulphur containing fossil fuels, mainly coal. As industry has moved on towards a more financially focused sector the main sources of air pollution have moved on to traffic emissions, currently the primary source of air pollution. Petrol and diesel engines contribute to the level of Nitrogen Dioxide, Particulate Matter, Carbon Monoxide and Hydrocarbons (Environmental Protection UK). Vehicles and other mobile sources effectively contribute to around 30% of the UK s air pollution. This figure is likely to be higher with regards to London. Industry is a major source but road transport causes the greatest number of air quality exceedences and is one of the main drivers for poor air quality in London. Pollutants such as Nitrogen Dioxide can not only cause problems locally, but can also travel long distances. They can also lead to the formation of secondary pollutants such as Ozone. Health Air pollution can cause many detrimental effects to the human body, including: reduced lung capacity, coughing, wheezing, and worsening of asthma, deaths, and hospital 1

3 admissions from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. It has been estimated that long term exposure to air pollution may have contributed to 15,800 deaths in London due to cardiovascular effects, in 2009 (Clean Air in London, 2011). High levels of Nitrogen Dioxide can potentially cause constriction of the bronchioles, humans to become more susceptive to allergens and can increase death rates (COMEAP). The Nitrogen Dioxide can act as a form of irritant to the lungs and can cause inflammation to the airways. Many studies have conclusively shown that air pollutants and its concentration in the atmosphere are linked with effects on health. Human clinical and animal toxicology experiments have shown that short term exposure to Nitrogen Dioxide can have adverse effects on health, but these occur at much higher levels then what is found outdoors. Time series epidemiological studies have identified associations between increased concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide and increased risk of mortality and hospital emissions (COMEAP). However it has not yet been established whether this is a causal relationship or whether there are other factors involved. Justification for the proposed study Case Study Polluted Playgrounds- Toxic air near schools in South East England Keith Taylor MEP carried out this investigation which has highlighted the vulnerability that we face in terms of public health from air pollution across the South East of England. This report is another addition to the growing amount of evidence that suggests that action is required to mitigate levels of air pollution especially around our schools (Taylor, 2010). Evidence indicates that as air pollution from traffic increases at school and at home, there is an increased risk of developing asthma. Scientists from Aphekom have published research that states that living near roads where more than 10,000 vehicles pass per day could be the primary factor for around 15-30% of all new cases of asthma in children. Clean Air in London has found that 1,148 schools in London are located within 150 metres of roads carrying more than 10,000 vehicles per day. It also found there was a total of 2,270 within a 400 metres distance of such roads. The polluted playground report highlights the importance of monitoring air pollution in and around the schools in London. It is essential to have reliable data to understand the concentration of Nitrogen Dioxide that children and teachers are being exposed to. It also shows the importance to provide awareness and education throughout society. The proposed investigation can contribute to current academic knowledge and will enable a greater understanding of air quality in a number of schools in Camden, London. It will also be responding to a priority issue voiced by citizens groups to enhance understanding and research potential solutions. 2

4 Aims and Objectives - Use citizen communication to raise awareness and provide a basic understanding of air pollution to selected students via presentations and interactive sessions - Monitor outdoor concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide in and around nine schools in the London Borough of Camden over a three week period - To assess whether the levels of Nitrogen Dioxide increases with a decreasing distance to the closest roads and to analyse other micro scale factors - Review literature on spatial distribution of NO 2 in cities and complete an assessment of the contributing factors in selected schools - Monitor the indoor NO 2 levels from classrooms closest and furthest from main roads - To identify possible solutions that schools may be able to implement to decrease exposure to air pollution Methodology The project will take place in collaboration with a Science-based citizen group and will be funded by Camden Council Data Collection Diffusion Tubes - To investigate into Nitrogen Dioxide levels around the Schools in Camden, primary data will be collected via Nitrogen Dioxide diffusion tubes. The tube is designed for passively monitoring gaseous airborne Nitrogen Dioxide. The concentrations of Nitrite ions absorbed are quantitatively determined by UV/Visible Spectrophotometry. This is then referenced to a calibration curve derived from the analysis of standard nitrite solutions. - For this investigation Gradko NO 2 diffusion tubes will be used, they are ideal for carrying out spatial and localised measurements in ambient air. The diffusion tubes will be left on location for 3 weeks. - Field and lab blanks will be taken to ensure that trace sources of artificially introduced contamination are identified. To control for validity of the method, triplicates will be used and compared against existing monitoring stations. All of the diffusion tubes will be fixed at a standard height of 2.2 metres. 3

5 Measurement of NO 2 in nine Camden Schools - To assess whether distance to the road is associated with concentration of Nitrogen Dioxide, a separate plan of the locations of the diffusion tubes will be made for each school. The other micro-scale factors such as open space, greenery and presence of walls will also be taken into consideration. - Each school will have a minimum of 10 diffusion tubes located in and around it. A preliminary plan has been made for one of the nine schools that will be investigated. - A site visit and presentation will be made to each of the schools before the half term week of the 26 th of May. The NO 2 diffusion tubes will be set up in the first week of June, this is because the tubes must be measured at a time that is representative of normal every day activity. Measuring concentrations during the half term would not give a representative sample. The tubes will all be checked to make sure that they have been set up appropriately. The tubes will be left on location for 3 weeks and then taken down and sent for analysis. The completion of this task will rely on Gradko to provide an analysis of the samples. Figure 1 Eleanor Palmer Primary School 4

6 - Figure 1 shows a map of Eleanor Palmer Primary School, the stars represent potential air quality monitoring points. Taking into consideration that the site has not be physically assessed the preliminary points are strategically located in order to investigate the stated objectives. - The red points represent outdoor air quality taken in a transect from the road in order to measure concentration of Nitrogen Dioxide with increasing distance from the road. The purple points represent measurements that are going to be taken outside the school to investigate actual roadside concentrations. The blue points represent indoor monitoring points. Although indoor air quality is not a stated objective, it will interesting to measure air quality in classrooms that are closest to roads and compare them with classrooms furthest from them. Secondary Data Collection - Secondary data on air pollution concentrations from LAQN fixed monitoring stations will be collected from the Kings College London Air Database, to make comparisons with the primary data that is collected. The database has five separate monitoring stations in Camden; data from these locations will also be used to provide evidence of long term changes to Nitrogen Dioxide. Land use data will also be collected to determine factors that may contribute to the dispersion and emissions of Nitrogen Dioxide around the schools. Information on surrounding land type/use and population density can be collected by using either a GIS database or an individual audit of the school. Citizen Communication Methodology Providing awareness and Education Within the project an ethos on education and awareness of air quality will be an underlying feature. Education to pupils of the selected Camden schools will be provided by engaging pupils in interactive air pollution lectures with the opportunity to set up the diffusion tubes. Lesson plans will be planned in accordance with the ages of the pupil. It will ensured that the lessons are engaging and interactive. To engage a wider audience, lead assemblies will be taken at some schools through the use of presentations. A feedback session will also take place after the results of the diffusion tubes have been analysed. 5

7 Project Timeline Analysis - The diffusion tubes will be sent back to Gradko, an analysis of Nitrogen Dioxide will be provided. - Potential problem spots within the schools will be identified and enable a visual representation to be made, potentially on maps. - To assess whether there is a relationship between the distance from road and concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide I will be using SPSS and a non-parametric test called Spearmen s rank to gauge the strength of the relationship between the two variables. Other micro scale factors will also be taken into consideration. - To assess whether the concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide vary significantly between the schools, an independent T-test can be used. Potential Solutions - In order to provide potential solutions that the schools may be able to effectively implement, case studies and current relevant investigations will be analysed. Successful projects will be assessed to see if there is potential to improve air quality in the schools in Camden. Applications such as green walls and mesh fencing will be examined in greater detail to find out its effectiveness. 6

8 Limiting Factors - The diffusion tubes have an inevitable uncertainty attached to them, instruments with greater accuracy are available at a greater expense - Diffusion tubes are likely to be damaged in an environment where there are many school children - The height of the tube at 2.2 metres may not be truly representative of a child s exposure - Tubes must be placed in the appropriate locations i.e. they must be spaced at least 5 cm from the attached surface - The use of just one tube in a transect could possibly lead to inaccurate results - The weather may play a vital role, as the experiment is taking place over a 3 week period it only captures one point in time. Certain weather types can affect the concentration of Nitrogen Dioxide Outcomes - To identify which schools have the highest Nitrogen Dioxide concentrations. - To identify mitigating measures that can be implemented within the schools of Camden to improve air quality. - Provide evidence whether or not micro-scale factors such as proximity to roads have an impact on Nitrogen Dioxide concentrations. - Potential solutions to the problem of air pollution will be highlighted and the most relevant and applicable will be portrayed. - All of the nine Camden Schools involved will have had an interactive lesson or a presentation that will enhance their knowledge on air quality and mitigation measures. - Provide recommendations for mitigating air pollution exposure in schools based on the analysis and literature review Risk Assessment See attached. 7

9 REFERENCES Environmental Protection UK Car Pollution.[Online] Available from Last Accessed - 07/05/14 COMEAP The Health Effects of Air Pollutants. [Online] Available from Last Accessed - 07/05/14 Clean Air in London, (2011) Air Quality: a follow up report.[online] Available from Last Accessed 07/05/14 Taylor K, (2010) Polluted Playgrounds- Toxic air near schools in South East England.[Online] Available From - Last Acessed- 07/05/14 8

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