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Traffic pollution in Glasgow rose by almost a third during the COP26 summit

New data has shown that traffic pollution in Glasgow rose by almost a third during COP26. An air quality sensor positioned under Kingston Bridge less than a mile from the summit found that concentrations of the air pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) rose by almost a third (30%).

The results came after Glasgow City Council recognized in the days leading up to the conference that “heavy traffic jams” caused by long-term road closures could lead to increased air pollution.

NO₂ levels peaked during the climate conference on November 8th when the Aeternum sensor recorded levels 93% above the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2021 air quality guidelines, which recommend nitrogen dioxide averaging 25 µg / m³. Should not exceed in any 24 hour period.

The sensor found the average NO₂ concentration during the two weeks of the conference at 34 µg / m³ – an increase of 30% (8 µg / m³) compared to the October average of 26 µg / m³. The average NO₂ level began to decrease in the days after the end of the conference and fell to 29 µg / m³ by November 29th.

Aeternum’s data follows a trend similar to that of two air quality sensors installed near Glasgow by the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) during the same period that recorded a peak in nitrogen dioxide during the conference.

Nitrogen oxides are produced in combustion processes and road traffic is the main source of nitrogen dioxide in the open air, suggesting that traffic pollution caused the increase in nitrogen dioxide in the air during the two weeks of the conference. Higher levels of nitric oxide can lead to health problems, especially in young children, asthmatics, and adults with heart and respiratory diseases.

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Paul Carter, Founder of Aeternum, said: “Our sensor data clearly shows an increase in the average nitrogen dioxide level under Kingston Bridge in Glasgow during COP26 compared to the month before the event. When we compared our results with those of the DEFRA measuring stations, we noticed a general trend that the average NO₂ values ​​rose during the event and later almost fell to their previous values. “

He continued: “There has been a lot of speculation about the potential environmental impact of such a large global event, with many delegates arriving and departing using environmentally harmful means of transport. Our sensor is located along a main aisle that leads to the SEC, so we can get a clear picture of the air many attendees breathed during the conference. By closely monitoring hyperlocal air quality, councilors and communities can get a clear, real-time picture of the effects of air pollutants that local people breathe – and make informed decisions about how best to treat them. “