Preston man launches free service to help city’s residents identify pollution hotspots

Posted on - 13th April, 2020 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, People, Preston News
Preston's skyline from the Docks Pic: Tony Worrall
Preston’s skyline from the Docks Pic: Tony Worrall

A Preston man has used his extra spare time from the coronavirus lockdown to launch a new service aimed at identifying pollution hotspots in the city.

Andy Slater, who studied Computing at UCLan and is a Computer Network Engineer, has created Check Your Air to chart local pollution in real time. The tracking system uses sensors Andy has made himself using off-the-shelf parts, 3D printed parts, and a Raspberry Pi.

Andy said: “I have always had a passion for renewable energy and the environment, and have been interested in how technology can track changes and improve things.

“I started the Check Your Air project a while back but didn’t get round to actually making it work until isolation came along! Having a bit more time on my hands I thought I would try and finish it off.

“The service is currently in its trial phase, but users will eventually be able to request a sensor to be installed and have the area monitored for a week at a time. This will give a baseline of peak pollution times throughout the week for that particular area.

“This information will be made available on the website as part of a catalogue of monitored sites so people can check their local area’s history.”

Read more: New directory aims to connect Preston and South Ribble businesses with people in self-isolation

Andy started the project to help people get more accurate information about pollution.

Andy Slater
Andy Slater has created Check Your Air

He said: “Government guidelines for particulate exposure are based on 24-hour average readings. To me that didn’t make much sense as you could be walking down Garstang Road in rush hour and be exposed to far more pollution in that short space of time.

“Recent studies suggest that even short-term exposure for shorter periods can have an impact on health. I thought if we can get access to local information that charts pollution in real time, people could make informed decisions around when to exercise, times to avoid, etc.

“But the implications could be wider, for example schools could be exposing children during peak pollution periods unknowingly.”

Requests for sensors are being logged and will be dealt with after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted. Andy is also considering installing permanent sensors with sponsorship.

To find out more, visit the Check Your Air website.

Read more: Fishwick mother to start Preston climate change action group

What do you think of Andy’s project? Would you be interested in getting a sensor or checking levels of pollution near you? Let us know in the comments.

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