Londoners might be asked to wear pollution monitors

A clinical trial by Imperial College wants volunteers to help measure the impact of the newly Cexpanded ULEZ

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham
News Editor, Time Out UK and Time Out London
London pollution
Photograph: Shutterstock

The year’s fashion trends are growing stranger. First it was lat-flow bling in the club, now it could be a pollution monitor slung around your neck. It might not be sexy (or could it be? It depends how you wear it), but it’s very, very 2021.

Imperial College is asking Londoners to wear pollution monitors as part of a study to measure the amount of toxic air they’re exposed to in their daily lives. It’s all about assessing the effects of the newly-expanded ULEZ, which came into force earlier this week.

We often hear about pollution in terms of big numbers. The number of high-polluting cars on the road; the millions of tonnes of CO2 released into the atmosphere; the number of pollution-induced asthma cases. Imperial’s study aims to bring it all down to earth – to make the effects of pollution better understood on a personal level.

Imperial’s leader of the trial, Professor Fan Chung, told the Evening Standard: ‘The whole idea is whether we can pick up something from these observations that will allow us to predict whether you are at risk.’ 

Titled the INHALE Research Project, the study will look at how pollution affects lungs and cell toxicity, with particular focus on asthmatics and residents of west London. At the moment, the trial has recruited 20 volunteers, but it’s looking for another 60.

Those volunteers have to wear the monitors for two fortnightly periods – one during winter and another during the rest of the year – as well as provide samples of blood, urine and sputum (phlegm). Eurgh, gross! 

While policies like the ULEZ and system of LTNs reduce pollution for residents within certain zones, they also increase pollution levels for those living on main roads. The INHALE trial wants to determine the difference between residents of different areas – with the eventual aim of helping to provide solutions that reduce the effects of pollution.

If you’re interested in getting involved in the trial, see Imperial’s digital clinical trial recruitment poster here.

For more on London pollution:

Here's all you need to know about the new ULEZ expansion

There's a campaign to get London car owners to pay by-the-mile

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