DPD launches BREATHE pollution monitoring scheme

European carriers DPD are installing air quality monitors on its vans and premises in six of the biggest cities in the UK as part of a Europe-wide study on air pollution.

Named Project BREATHE, it is already live in London with 100 mobile air quality sensors on the roofs of its vans and 20 fixed units on the top of its DPD PIckUp shops close to schools and play areas. At the end of this month, the same systems will be in place in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff. A network of over 400 sensors will deliver 1.5 million readings a day.

The sensors are focused on fine particles of PM2.5 at breathing level, particles that can lodge in lung tissue and cause serious problems like asthma and lung cancer. The idea is to identify hotspots in cities and to allow for better city planning such as congestion alleviation.

The European carriers are running the scheme across the UK and Europe alongside air quality tracking providers Pollutrack that has announced plans to have 2,400 such sensors across 20 European cities by the end of the year. The data will be available to councils, academics and customers.

DPD has a strong position on sustainable transport, with plans to deliver to 25 of the UK’s largest towns and cities using low-emissions delivery vehicles by 2025. It already has 800 on the road in the UK.

Olly Craughan, DPD‘s Head of CSR commented, “BREATHE is a hugely significant project for us and complements our 2025 strategy to deliver via electric vehicles to 25 cities in the UK.  We will be measuring air pollution using our existing city centre fleet and facilities. Typically, air quality monitoring has just been based on fixed positions, whereas we are mobile and cover the whole of a city at different times.  We will be providing real-time, breathing level readings that could help improve air quality for millions of people.

“The initial Covid lockdowns really highlighted the issue of air quality, as people got used to quieter roads and cities. We hope that local authorities, other key stakeholders and academics can utilise this data to help inform further research and local decision making.  We are already working with the team behind the Birmingham Clean Air Zone and our data will play a key part in monitoring the real impact the zone makes, when it goes live on 1st June 2021.” DPD

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