Author: Ejaz Hussain

Exploring Hounslow’s Air Quality Data

Why Air Quality matters?

It is a known fact that poor air quality is unhealthy to all of us, especially for vulnerable groups such as people with medical conditions such as heart issues or asthma, as well as children or the elderly with breathing difficulties. Air quality is not the same everywhere. In other words: pollution can build up in pockets and we call them “hot spots” and potential reasons for these occurring are that they are close to a busy road or near a commercial or industrial zone. Prevailing weather conditions are another contributory factor that impacts air quality measures. So, it is important to us all to monitor air quality regularly, identify troublesome “hot spots”, and ensure that we are using this information to help guide actions and policies focused on ensuring cleaner air for us all.

What do we know about Air Quality in Hounslow?

London Borough of Hounslow partners with Ricardo Energy & Environment who maintain 6 Air Quality monitoring sites across the borough. As well as these sites, there are also third-party monitoring stations like Breathe London. Live stations provide hourly data which hold key measurements of specific pollutants within the air. The current list of live monitoring stations is as below:

  • Brentford
  • Chiswick
  • Feltham
  • Gunnersbury
  • Hatton Cross
  • Heston

Quick understanding of Air Quality measures (Pollutants)

Do you know that air is mostly gas? Air is actually comprised of a mixture of different gases like Nitrogen (approx. 78%), Oxygen (21%) and the remaining approx. 1% hold lots of other gases in the earth’s atmosphere (NASA). The UK Government has provided a national legislation and standards on air quality that identifies key pollutants in the air, like Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Particulate Matter up to 10 micrometres in size (PM10), Small Particulate Matter under 2.5 micrometre in size (PM2.5), Nitric Oxide (NO), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and Ozone (O3).

How can data science support a ‘data-enabled decision making’ process?

The role of data science brings in a deep lens to interpret data with a new dimensions and opportunities. With the use of key data science technologies like Python and R, you can filter out answers in seconds. At the London Borough of Hounslow, the Data Science & Quality Team have been working on air quality data sets generated during the last 10 years, where we have learned and identified valuable insights such as, seasonal changes impacting the hot spots’ live feeds, last 10 years comparison between hot spots and its performance to gather data, correlating pollutants with each other, correlating data with 3rd party monitoring stations, engineering and deploying machine learning models for predictive insights and utilising cloud technologies for rapid outcomes for data-enabled decision making.

During our data science work, we have learned so many facts and picked up patterns based on air quality data insights, do you know that during winter season pollutants concentration within the air stays longer than summer because cold air is denser and moves slower than warm air. The image below explains last 10 years of seasonal recordings within Hounslow.

data visual for Air Quality and its pattern during seasonal changes.
Air Quality Pollutants / Visual covering yearly seasons

What can we do in future?

The Data Science & Quality Team regularly meets Environmental & Public Health colleagues and are working on future initiatives for the cleaner air in Hounslow. One of the future initiatives is to correlate past 10 years of air quality data against the public health’s respiratory datasets. This initiative will bring in new dimensions and thoughts to build on.

If you have an idea / suggestion to share or to correlate Hounslow’s Air Quality data against your datasets, then please do approach us.