Global Clean Air from Birmingham to Seoul

Making plans to improve our air

Juyoung Lee is from Seoul on a student placement with a particular interest in Clean Air – she writes about her experiences with us monitoring our air:

I joined the meeting between Marcus and Dot at Corpus Christ Catholic Primary school on Wednesday 27th March, which was for discussing ‘Clean Air Day’ program and managing a ‘SMAQ’ Air monitor. A week ago, Marcus installed a ‘SMAQ’ at the pole in the back yard of the school. This device has monitored air quality around school and transmitted data in real time, which is shown at the dash board in urban clouds website. There are two kinds of devices; SMAQ(fixed) and Appmosfera(mobile). Mobile device collects data in four categories of breathable irritant gases (IR), CO, Interior Air Quality (IAQ), PM. On the other hand, ‘SMAQ-fixed’ gives information in six pollutants of CO, NO2, O3, PM1, PM10, PM2.5 individually. SMAQ seem more specialized in monitoring specific pollutants.

Juyoung and Dot fixing the Air Monitor in the playground

I, myself, carry mobile device on my bag. After receiving this unit, I monitor air quality data when I go to university or city center. The advantage of mobile device looks its easy access to data through mobile phone app. This device makes me interested in air quality around me, and I expect it would be similar to other users.

It is regarded that the most difficult thing in designing and implementing policy related to climate change is people’s indifference. People tend to think that environmental problems are still far from them and are their own business. I believe that the first step to solution is to make people get interested. If students and their parents get informed of air quality condition around school, which is transmitted in real time directly from the device installed in the school, they will be more interested and engaged in clean air quality. Whenever I’ve checked my data, it says all green. People in Birmingham are concerned about poor air quality, but it seems far better than that of Seoul. Air quality in Seoul has become extremely bad in recent years. I hope the air quality in Seoul is as good as in Birmingham.

The meeting started at I P.M, and children were playing at outside the school. The overall size of school and the number of students looked smaller than that of Korea. Children were wearing uniforms and looked all cute. In Korea, children wear uniforms from secondary school. Another difference was that the playground was covered with concrete while that of Korean primary school being covered with sand. Desks and chairs were all colourful and smaller than those of Korea – primary school students in the U.K enter a school earlier than in Korea (School is optional in Korea until the age of 6).

Marcus explained to me that population in Birmingham is growing, particularly Young People and it has caused shortage of school space. On the other hand, it’s envious – Primary schools in Korea are closing down due to lack of students in spite of government’s policy to encourage birth rate. It is serious problem.

In the meeting, overall plan about events on ‘Clean Air Day’ was discussed. Clean air day in U.K is 20th June. Local organisations and public bodies support events to improve people’s conception to air quality. Korean ‘Air day’ was 22th October. Event days in Corpus Primary School were settled between 17th ~ 21st June. Starting with Clean Air Assembly, various events will be held including interviewing students’ parents, students’ presentation. These events will be meaningful to improve students’ awareness to air quality and to change their behaviors such as energy saving and the use of public transportation.

Juyoung Lee continues supporting our work monitoring and improving Air Quality in Birmingham

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1st April 2019  |  Marcus Belben