Citizen science group welcomes next stage in investigations of local air quality

Air pollution monitor on a lamp post in Barry

Cardiff University researcher, Dr Nick Hacking, along with members of the Barry Citizen Science Group, recently oversaw the installation of a high-quality air pollution monitor from Think Air Ltd, which marked a new stage in the group’s investigations of local air quality.

This ongoing investigation by the local community group is the focus of a Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data (WISERD) research project involving Cardiff University researchers, Professor Rob Evans, Dr Jamie Lewis and Dr Nick Hacking, called Experts, expertise and citizen science: a case study of air quality monitoring. The team are interested in how and why citizen science groups are an important element of civil society, especially in relation to challenging unfair treatment of local knowledge and expertise.

The research team have spent the last year working with group members, putting together a small but active network of citizen scientists operating eight DIY air quality kits positioned on these group members’ houses, and collecting and analysing the resulting data. These units are based on off-the-shelf microelectronics which WISERD acquired enabling members of the community to participate in the study.

The installation of this new kit from Think Air, an air quality company based in Llanelli, marks the next stage in the group’s investigations of local air quality. This professional-level equipment, certified to government standards, represents the state-of-the-art in terms of accuracy and coverage of a range of emissions. It will provide the group with a more authoritative data source that can help challenge official data if necessary and it also represents a benchmark against which to compare the data already being gathered around the locality.

Dr Nick Hacking from Cardiff University, said:

Barry residents should be proud that the town is very lively in terms of civic activities. We hope that all residents will take an interest in the ‘community science’ that is currently happening on their doorsteps. Anyone can get involved no matter what their interests and background. We are keen to continue with our working relationship with the community by further ‘co-producing’ new environmental data in the town.


Photograph by Dr Nick Hacking.