Cambridge’s “Open Seneca” tackles air pollution

Air pollution in the UK kills thousands each year, according to a study published earlier this year.

In cities such as Cambridge, there are hotspots where adults and children are breathing in dangerous levels of air pollution on a regular basis.

Major roads and hotspots in the city centre have some of the highest levels of pollution in the county, with congested roads and junctions or places with idling buses or taxis being some of the worst spots.

Air pollution is often linked to climate change and its effect on the atmosphere, but the effect on public health is less known.

Open Seneca is one Cambridge organisation working on this problem and trying to raise awareness.

The initiative enables people to build their own portable air pollution sensors to measure their exposure. 

Open Seneca co-founder Peter said: “We’re trying to initiate a behavioural change.

“For instance, cyclists going down a busy road might want to change their route.

“We’ve known that people are wanting to do that. Our sensors enable that sort of behavioural change.”

He added: “Cambridge is in a very fortunate position in that its western Europe, and pollution in western Europe is relatively low.

“However, there are instances – during rush hour – where pollution levels can be not so nice. Especially for cyclists cycling behind a truck.”

The average pollution level can sometimes reach more than twice what the World Health Organisation regards as dangerous, and peaks at 10 times that level at rush hour.