Monitoring Outdoor Air Quality with a Sensor

We have started monitoring outdoor air quality by installing a sensor on our Horam shop. We were approached to do this by local community action group "TN21 environment aware", only to discover that people have been doing it for years and there are already over 14,000 sensors monitoring air quality worldwide. Who knew? 

Monitoring Outdoor Air Quality

People in the UK have been quietly monitoring their own air quality for years. In 2017 the environmental charity Friends of the Earth believed 70 local groups were using testing kits and monitoring outdoor air quality in their communities. There will be doubtless be many more groups by now, including our very own "TN21 environment aware" who organised Horam's first air quality monitor back in 2019. 

The statistics about the impact of polluted air on communities speak for themselves. It is estimated that around 36,000 premature deaths a year in the UK can be linked to air pollution [source]. 5 years ago it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of children were being exposed to illegal levels of damaging air pollution from diesel vehicles at schools and nurseries across England and Wales, via a joint investigation by the Guardian newspaper and Greenpeace [source]

Given there has been a 2,600% increase in electric cars on the road over the past 4 years [source] we have to hope that the air pollution situation has been improved somewhat by petrol diesel cars being replaced with electric ones across the UK.

I am acutely aware that we are very lucky to live where we do, particularly given events unfolding around the world as I write this. Compared with living in a war zone, for example. However anything we can do here to monitor air quality with a view to improving it has to be a positive thing. So when we were approached to have Horam's third sensor on our building which is located on a busy road, we were more than happy to get involved.

Friends of the Earth Clean Air Community

Friends of the Earth conducted a ground breaking air pollution experiment involving thousands of people across the UK back in 2017, including in Eastbourne which is just down the road from us. People started testing the quality of the air where they lived, and the results suggested that dirty air was a problem in more places than the government had outlined in its draft Air Quality Plan at that time. This included 13 areas which were not identified as having any pollution problem at that stage, by either their local authority or the national government. Eastbourne was one of those areas. 

A Community Project was then set up. Clean Air Eastbourne is a citizen science project that builds low cost air pollution monitors which help to map the quality of the town's air in real time. The air pollution monitors being built and installed are part of the Sensor Community (formerly Luftdaten) network, helping to monitor air quality around the world. A small community group in our village of Horam decided to start monitoring outdoor air quality here too.

Air Quality Sensor

We installed our air quality sensor this morning. It is called the Enviro+.

Pimoroni Air Quality Sensor

Enviro+ is an affordable alternative to environmental monitoring stations that can cost tens of thousands of pounds. The unit will enable us to contribute our air quality data to  (the open data project formerly known as Luftdaten) in Germany. 

Manufactured by Pimoroni, the sensors need to be situated outdoors within 5 metres of a power supply, and to be in range of Wifi. They then measure particulates in the air (PM10 and PM2.5), temperature, atmospheric pressure and humidity and submit their readings via the internet.

Air Quality Monitoring Sensor

At time of writing, there are over 14,000 air quality monitoring sensors worldwide, in 71 countries. The screenshot above shows them all around the UK as at this morning. The greener the hexagon, the cleaner the air. We have been very lucky with our monitor, because the "TN21 environment aware" team have done everything for us. All we needed to do was fit the unit to our building this morning.

 Air Quality Monitoring Sensor

Find out more about Air Quality Monitoring 

Want to know if there are any air quality sensors in your area? Simply visit and enter the name of your town in the search box. If there are air sensors in your area, you will see a hexagon representing each unit. When you click on a hexagon you can see its readings, which are recorded.

Further Reading

There is no Planet B - A Handbook for the Make or Break Years by Mike Berners-Lee

The Fully Charged Guide to Electric Vehicles and Clean Energy

Material Value: More Sustainable, Less Wasteful Manufacturing of Everything from Cell Phones to Cleaning Products by Julia L F Goldstein

More Almost Off Grid Favourites

Solar Panels, Electric Cars and Heat Pumps - achieving NetZero by 2030

Making Wine from Garden Grapes - a Beginner's Guide

Homemade Halloumi Cheese

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