Works on installing air quality monitors across Blaby district nearing completion

Mason Moore | Hinckley Reporter | 24 October 2023

WORKS on installing new special air quality monitoring equipment across the Blaby district is nearing completion.

One of the ‘Zephyr’ air monitoring stations (Image: Blaby District Council)

Blaby District Council received just over £151,000 of funding in total from Defra for the ‘Particulates Matter’ project back in 2022.

The air monitoring stations, called ‘Zephyrs’ have been installed in 13 locations, mainly on land owned by the council, or a parish council, since November 2022. They are small black boxes mounted on a metal pole, and most of them sport solar panels.

Some of the areas which already play home to the Zephyrs include Cosby, Croft, Huncote, Narborough, Enderby, Glen Parva, Braunstone, and Leicester Forest East.

The final two monitors are set to be installed and fitted within the next few weeks.

They are being installed to focus on ‘very fine’ particles known as ‘particulate matter’, which are a size of 2.5 microns or less. Microns are a tiny measurement equal to one thousandth of a millimetre. They might contain dust, dirt, soot, or smoke.

When inhaled, particulate matter may irritate breathing passages and lungs. Research seen by the council shows that PMs smaller than 10 may have a greater impact on human health, and has been linked to lung and heart disease, and cancer.

The Zephyrs help to track levels of nitrogen dioxide, associated with road traffic, o-zone, and particulate matter.

It is expected that data from the monitors will be made available online over the course of the next few months, giving residents the chance to view the levels locally.

In a statement seen by Hinckley Free Press, a council spokesperson said the online viewer would “especially help” those with health conditions who may be impacted by pollutants to make informed decisions, and adjust their activities, if necessary.

More Zephyrs may be purchased and installed during the project if the council feels the need to increase monitoring locations.

Equipment to monitor ammonia may also be considered, as this can also be a highly contributing factor for PMs from the agricultural industry.

Coun. Les Phillimore, the District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing, Community and Environmental Services, said: “As a District Council we have a responsibility to measure the quality of air for our residents to ensure it meets required standards for certain pollutants. We monitor nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.

“This project is focusing on particulate matter. We want to raise people’s awareness of particulate matter and its harmful effects and causes as research shows it can be a hazard to health. People with existing heart issues and respiratory problems such as asthma can be especially affected by these tiny pollutants.

“Making the monitoring data available online is an important step in ensuring people are aware of local levels. They can then make their own decisions on behaviour and activities. This is a collaborative project and we are working closely with Leicestershire County Council Public Health and several other partners on delivery.”

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