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COP26 Delegates Enjoyed The Best Air Quality of 20 major European Cities

Glasgow Air Quality During COP26 Was Nearly Ten Times Better Than Paris, Prague, Bologna

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND, November 17, 2021 / -- A unique mobile Air Quality Monitoring programme¹, which uses smart laser sensors mounted on thousands of vehicles across Europe to track air quality in real-time, exclusively reveals Glasgow’s air quality to be nearly ten times better than many other major European cities, and also forty (40) times better than New Delhi and Beijing for most of the COP26 summit.

During the two-week summit, levels of airborne fine particulate matter PM2.5, by far the most damaging of all urban pollutants to human health, consistently met or bettered the WHO’s annual recommendation of 5 micrograms per cubic metre (5µg/m³).

Revised in September 2021, the threshold defines a yearly mean level that should not be regularly exceeded in order to avoid acute and chronic health effects.

Joining Glasgow as some of the least polluted European cities during that period, Madrid, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Leeds, and Dublin also recorded low levels of fine particulate matter, PM2.5.

With an index of 16, London was just slightly above the 24-hour ceiling recommended by the WHO, still significantly better than many European cities.

While air quality in Glasgow remained impressively healthy, other cities across Europe experienced significantly worse urban pollution - especially over the last four days of the conference. During this period, PM2.5 in Bologna, Paris, and Prague, for instance, consistently exceeded even the WHO’s short-term maximum 24-hour thresholds of 15µg/m³ with averages of 38, 39, and 42, respectively, nearly ten times more than Glasgow.

With recent scientific studies² pointing towards a link between urban pollution and the increased risk of COVID-19 complications, the importance of real-time, street-level air quality data has never been more important. Recent spikes in COVID-19 cases in several German cities and Kiev, Ukraine correlate with significant increases in measured airborne fine particulate matter PM2.5, especially across European eastern regions.
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¹ Part of a wider project:
This first-of-its-kind mobile air quality monitoring programme has already been rolled out in 20 major European cities including Paris, Madrid, London, Dublin, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Lisbon, Bologna, Manchester, Birmingham, Prague.

An electricity operator and a large European parcel-delivery company have partnered with Pollutrack to install air quality sensors on thousands of vehicles across these Smart Cities.

The laser sensors capture Particulate Matter (PM2.5) levels in real time at breathing level, and transmit the data every 12 seconds via GSM to a central database.

With millions of real-life and real-time measurements, this novel mobile air quality monitoring programme exposes for the first time pollution heterogeneity and true urban airborne particle levels, delivering unique street-by-street breathing level insights to both policymakers and citizens, to help improve quality of life.

PM2.5 are generated in particular by the burning of fossil fuels, such as diesel engines and heating appliances. The spread of fertilizers in the vicinity of cities during autumn and spring also contributes to significant urban pollution spikes.

These fine particles, ten times smaller than the average size of human cells, can be extremely harmful when they penetrate the lungs and blood stream.

About Pollutrack
Pollutrack, the very first mobile tracking system of fine particles PM2.5 was originally conceived and tested in Paris during the COP21. Having successfully proven the heterogeneity of air quality across the streets of Paris, and with the strong support of Mayor Anne Hidalgo, hundreds of vehicles from the national electricity operator Enedis were then equipped with Pollutrack laser sensors. Subsequently deployed in Lille and Annecy, the methodology has also been proven viable for mid-size cities before going international.

The subsequent European deployment of Pollutrack on thousands of vans with a major parcel-delivery operator is a decisive step forward for this innovative mobile air quality monitoring methodology at breathing level, to the direct benefit of all citizens.
Most European Capitals will be equipped by end 2022.

September 2021 Updated WHO Air Quality Recommendations:

² Links Covid & Pollution:

Scott Stonham