Sheffield air quality two times worse than recommended value

A local activist group’s measurements showed that air quality in Sheffield over the month of April has at times been double the amount the World Health Organisation deems safe.

According to 664,000 measurements taken by 55 live air monitoring sensors around the city, Clean Air Sheffield activist Graham Turnbull deducted that the amount of particulate material in the air was alarmingly high.

Mr Turnbull promised: “There will be one million measurements in May.”

The amount of average PM 2.5 particular matter in the air (or pollutants) was 19.2 μg/m3 in April, which is almost twice as high as the WHO-mandated guideline mean value of 10 μg/m3 annually.

Air pollution in the UK is causing up to 36,000 deaths every day – that figure boils down to around 500 deaths a year in Sheffield. The main sources of all this pollution, that is mainly in the form of so called PM 2.5 and PM 10 particles, are industrial sites and exhaust fumes from vehicles.

Mr Turnbull and his activist group have been working to provide better coverage of Sheffield’s air quality since last December. While the City Council’s live air monitoring capability does not exceed six stations put up over the course of 15 years, Clean Air Sheffield managed to install 55 low-cost live measurement devices over four months.

His efforts were praised by Alison Teal, a Green Party councillor and MEP-candidate.

She said: “Nowadays a lot of people just switch off when politicians are talking because they are exhausted by them. But they will talk to their neighbours and they would rather listen to them. This is why people like Graham have a really good potential to reach out about important issues like this.”

Image by Graham Turnbull

Their measurements are not as accurate as officially mandated stations’, but they do provide a clear picture of the seriousness of air quality problems in Sheffield.

He’s been working closely together with the University of Sheffield, German air monitoring company Luftdaten and the City Council in order to put more sensors up around Sheffield and raise awareness towards pollution among citizens.