With the World Health Organisation revealing this week that air pollution kills 16,000 Britons a year, one of the UK’s leading academics on air quality is developing thermal – or infrared – technology that enables viewers to physically see pollution and could help to save lives.
Martin Williams, Professor of Air Quality at Kings College London, has created a video with thermal imaging experts, FLIR Systems, to show how everyday transport contributes to air pollution. He says: “By using infrared technology you can physically see pollutants and how they spread from the source into the air. Technologies like this, that physically show pollution – whether fumes from a car, aeroplane or train – will help enormously in getting the message across.”
With young children so vulnerable to pollution, Professor Williams says one of the major concerns centres around prams and push chairs being so close to vehicle exhaust level: “If parents could see what it looks like pushing their child through a band of raw pollution, they’d take preventive action.”
While the World Health Organisation and other environmental groups are using cutting-edge technology to track and monitor air pollution, the hope is that the use of infrared technology in this way will have more impact when it comes to raising awareness about the harmful effects of air pollution and reducing its impact.
As Chris Brown from FLIR Systems said: “Unfortunately, we are only born with five senses! And what infrared lets us to do is optimise that sixth sense – allowing us to see air pollution before and while it’s happening.”
To see the video click here.
Thermal image of air pollution from street traffic in London courtesy of FLIR Systems.