Monitoring the levels of pollution in cities

Scientists and engineers at the University of York are coordinating an innovative project which will use new technologies to improve the understanding of urban pollution.


More than half of the world’s population lives in cities and nearly two billion extra urban residents are expected in the next 20 years. Many of the fastest growing cities in the world are highly polluted, resulting in adverse effects on human health.

Cutting-Edge Approaches for Pollution Assessment in Cities (CAPACITIE) received European Union funding to examine air, water and noise pollution in cities across the globe, including York, Berlin and Seoul.

The York researchers working on the four-year project are using a wide range of technologies including mobile phones, passive sampling devices, miniaturised sensing devices, robotics and analytical techniques such as time of flight mass spectrometry to monitor different forms of pollution.

The CAPACITIE project is led by Alistair Boxall, Professor in Environmental Science at York, who regularly advises national and international organisations on issues relating to chemical impacts on the environment. The project will help quantify levels of pollution with greater accuracy than is currently possible, monitor locations that have previously been difficult to sample and help researchers to understand the plethora of chemicals that the environment and humans are exposed to in modern cities. In the long-term, it will help to reduce the risk to human health of pollutants in cities worldwide.

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