Gill Baker with air quality meter outside Ladysmith Infant School

Clean Air Day – Get involved in measuring pollution and find greener walking routes during Exeter events

Families got advice on how to pick greener walking routes in Exeter and help to measure pollution in the city as part of two events to mark Clean Air Day.

Members from Heavitree Community Partnership, Transition Exeter and Sustrans are measuring air pollution in Exeter to mark “Clean Air Day”.  The members have been conducting citizen science experiments to measure air pollution in Heavitree.  They have also been talking to residents about how they can help reduce pollution and congestion.  East Wonford Hill/Heavitree Fore Street is known as one of the city’s pollution hot spots, but many children walk to school along these roads. Community members are developing ideas to help reduce congestion and pollution, but also want to come up easy ways to reduce pollution exposure to children.  

Families discovered one of these greener routes at an event this week. They can also assess the air quality of other parts of Exeter as part of a walk starting from Exeter Cathedral on Sunday, 24 June.

Gill Baker, a community member of the Heavitree Community Partnership Project, who is leading the events, said: “We want to raise awareness about the potential health benefits of taking greener routes and how to identify and avoid the more polluted areas of the city.”

“We are using portable air quality monitoring devices provided by the Greenpeace Research Laboratory at the University of Exeter.  We are walking around Exeter to assess the difference in air quality in different parts of the city. We have also been talking to residents about how they can help reduce pollution and congestion. We know families are busy, but some changes are really easy – such as walking a different route of the same distance which is less polluted.”

The route demonstrated on Thursday, 21 June showed how it is easy to swap walking through East Wonford Hill and Fore Street in Heavitree to a different route via Sweetbriar Lane and Higher Cemetery which is a similar distance. One group walked via Fore Street, and another via Sweetbriar Lane and the readings were compared. Readings taken already show air pollution in Higher Cemetery and Sweetbriar Lane is comparatively lower than on Ladysmith Road, Fore St and East Wonford Hill.

A second walk will set off from Exeter Cathedral at 2pm on Sunday 24th and will head to areas that residents believe are either highly polluted or a clean and pleasant space to walk.  Results will be posted on the Exeter Green Walks facebook page.

Lindsey Anderson, University of Exeter Impact and Partnership Development Manager – Community Partnerships, said: “The Community Partnership Heavitree Project was a pilot project which brought together local residents, schools, councillors, students and sustainable transport organisation Sustrans, with the goal of reducing traffic and congestion in Heavitree. It has been a great privilege to work alongside local people whose knowledge and enthusiasm have made the project such a great success. This is a great example of how the University and the City can work together to tackle local issues and we hope that the momentum in the Heavitree community will continue.”

 

Date: 21 June 2018

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