26 Feb-2 Mar 2018

Largest ever grass-roots air quality project in Flanders

Belgium is proud to host the biggest grass-roots science project in history. 20,000 people, led by the newspaper 'De Standaard', the University of Antwerp and the Flemish Environment Agency, will measure air pollution.

Marjan Justaert
Marjan Justaert De Standaard, Belgium
Source: De Standaard

Largest ever
grass-roots air quality project in Flanders
 - NewsMavens
Air pollution. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

This is proof that thousands of amateurs are capable of doing something that was impossible for a team of professional scientists.

The project CurieuzeNeuzen (Curious Noses), launched by "De Standaard", is journalism to be proud of. Since its launch last Saturday, the project has met with enormous response, proving that people are empowered to take action when the environment is at stake.

The citizens of Flanders, one of the most populated regions in the world, are aware that air pollution is a silent killer.

The diseases that stem from air pollution kill thirteen times more people than traffic accidents. No wonder that not only Belgians are watching this collective research with great attention.

environment, activism, media

Air quality is now the hottest topic in town

  • On each of the 20,000 selected locations, 2 low-cost samplers will be mounted on a v-shaped window sign, commonly used for advertising real estate.
  • The project will provide detailed information on the amount of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air.
  • An earlier study conducted in Antwerp -- on a much smaller scale -- demonstrated that the air quality in cities differs significantly from street to street. The air in a small and busy street can contain twice as much NO2 as that in a traffic-free street, even if the roads are next to each other.
  • The research will last a month. We will have access to the results in September.
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