Hubbub launched the #AirWeShare to spark greater debate about the quality of the air we breathe, inspiring people to join together to cut pollution, reduce exposure and protect public health.
Despite its impact on health, we’re still living in polluted towns and cities. A recent public poll showed that 37% of people feel air pollution is getting worse, and 83% of people are worried about how it could affect them or their families*.
Pollution is invisible and confusing, and it’s hard to properly know the impact on our health as individuals. We want to find new ways of talking about pollution and making the invisible visible. We’re exploring ways we can all reduce our exposure, cut pollution and add our voices to the call for cleaner air.
The #AirWeShare has been focused on London so far, but we hope we can take what we learn to other cities. Subscribe to stay in the loop, or get in touch if you’d like to explore ways we can collaborate and work together.
*Censuswide public polling April 2019 commissioned by Hubbub and Investec Plc
How the monitoring works
Most of what we know about air pollution in our towns and cities comes from large static monitoring stations. This has enabled us to know more about hotspots and overall levels of pollution. However, we know very little about how much individuals are exposed as they move around the city.
That’s why we carried out air quality monitoring with a cross section of Londoners, in partnership with King’s College London. In 2019, we gave 10 individuals, with different hobbies, occupations and travel routines, portable air pollution monitors to carry with them for one week. Read what we found: download the full report.
The monitors track black carbon (mcg/m³), which in an urban environment is most likely to be from traffic. Black carbon is a key component of particulate matter. The amount of black carbon in the air correlates to overall PM 2.5 levels, so it provides a good indication of people’s exposure to pollution. Read more about PM 2.5 here.
The monitor works by sucking in air through a black tube. It then measures particles in the air. It detects particles that are the size of black carbon, and gives a reading every minute.
Each monitor has a small filter that needs changing twice a week. You can tell a filter’s been used by the black dot on it (kind of gross when you realise that that black dot is what we’re breathing in!).
Curious to learn more about air quality monitoring? There’s many different types of monitors – read more about the pro’s and con’s of each kind based on what we’ve learnt.
Ever wondered what pollution looks like?
We often talk about air pollution but it’s invisible making it hard to visualise. To raise public awareness, Hubbub and King’s College London collaborated with artists Climate and Cities to create a new ’Pollution Pavilion’. The interactive display features huge balloons that change colour reflecting annual Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) data drawn from five London Air Quality Network stations to help visitors visualise air pollution levels.
Covent Garden Piazza
The installation was in place from Monday 13th January - Sunday 26th January 2020.
1.61 million people saw the installation
20,000 people engaged with the installation and stopped to talk to Hubbub
115,000 people pass through Covent Garden every day
The campaign so far
Starting a conversation
The monitoring results were presented by the All-Party Parliamentary Group in parliament to over 50 attendees.