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Air pollution halves during lockdown

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AIR pollution levels in Jersey have almost halved since lockdown as Islanders worked from home, only went out for essential journeys and swapped four wheels for two.

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Environment Minister John Young told States Members yesterday that air quality monitors around the Island had shown a 44% reduction in nitrogen dioxide levels and a 45% reduction in nitrogen oxide since March.

And a new report on air quality levels for 2019 is due out soon.

However, the minister admitted that plans to install air quality monitors around the Island to provide real-time updates had been impacted by redeployments within the department to deal with the Covid-19 response.

He said: ‘The team who were tasked with analysing the results have, since mid-March, been redeployed to assist with the government’s Covid response.

‘This therefore means that no significant progress has been made regarding the technical evaluation of air pollution in the Island for 2020 or on the roll-out of real-time air pollution.

‘Unfortunately, this will continue to be the case until members of the Environmental Health team return to business as usual.

‘Although I would like to give a clearer and more definitive timeframe for delivery, I am unable to do so, as I do not yet know when the team will be returning to their “normal” roles.

‘However, I can confirm that the 2019 Air Quality Report is close to completion and will be made available in the coming weeks, and that our air quality monitoring has shown a 45% reduction in NOx and a 44% decrease in NO2 levels following lockdown.’

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The new air quality monitors had been due to be in place by now to allow people to access data in real time online.

The information, which will eventually be collected by 300 sensors once the full project is rolled out, will also be used to help inform government policy.

Last year the government said the sensors would be installed by UK company AirSensa, which approached Digital Jersey after seeing its sandbox initiative, which encourages companies and entrepreneurs to test new products in the Island before rolling them out to a wider audience.

They will measure ozone, nitrogen dioxide, CO2, particulate matter, temperature and humidity and also have the potential to include other environmental sensors at a later date.

Jonny Drury

By Jonny Drury
Journalist

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