Air quality monitoring focus for villages

Zephyr Air Quality Monitor

Work is being finalised on installing specialist equipment as part of a project to monitor air quality across Blaby District.

The Council received just over £151,000 from Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) for the project, Particulates Matter, in 2022.

The project focuses on very fine particles - particulate matter or PMs - of a size of 2.5 microns or less. A micron is a tiny measurement equal to one thousandth of a millimetre. For comparison the thickness of spider silk is between three and eight microns.

These tiny particles might include dust, dirt, soot and smoke and when inhaled they may irritate breathing passages and lungs. Research has shown PMs smaller than 10 have a greater impact on human health and have been linked to lung and heart disease and cancer.

Since November 2022 monitoring stations, called Zephyrs, have been put up in 13 locations across the District, mainly on land owned by the Council or a Parish Council. These include Cosby, Croft, Huncote, Narborough, Enderby, Glen Parva, Braunstone Town and Leicester Forest East. The final two are expected to be in place in the next few weeks.

Residents may have seen them in place already. They are a smallish black box mounted on a metal pole. Most have a solar panel to provide power. The Zephyrs track levels of nitrogen dioxide (associated with road traffic), ozone and PMs.

In the next few months the data from the Zephyrs will be available online, allowing people to view local levels. This will enable people, especially those with health conditions which may be impacted by these pollutants, to make informed decisions and, if necessary, adjust their activities.

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. 

Councillor Les Phillimore, Blaby District Council 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 - PMs.

"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.”

For more information on air quality visit: Air Quality – Blaby District Council

Councillor Les Phillimore

Councillor Les Phillimore
Portfolio Holder for Housing, Community and Environmental Services

23 October 2023