Pepys Air quality
The Pepys Estate in Deptford, south London, is a predominately 1960’s housing estate on the banks of the Thames characterised by high-rise tower blocks and social housing. Situated near a busy thoroughfare and surrounding an industrial site, the estate suffers a variety of urban environmental issues.
Residents in the Pepys Estate expressed concerns over local air quality. This arose from the results of an earlier study of noise pollution which was primarily being generated from a scrap yard situated in the heart of the community. Local residents wanted to assess how good or poor the air quality was. They had particular concerns over the mechanical break-up of vehicles, large goods vehicles servicing the scrap yard and local traffic, which were seen as potential sources of pollution. The possible impact of a planned housing development further heightened their desire to assess local air quality. The survey was initiated with the Pepys Community Forum and commissioned by London Sustainability Exchange (LsX), a charity geared to creating a more sustainable London.
Following a residents meeting in the local community centre residents were provided with instructions and survey equipment to carry out their investigations. The area was divided up into 100m grids to obtain a good distribution of samples taken. Activities commenced with setting out a series of diffusion tubes on lampposts around the area. Diffusion tubes are commonly used to measure nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Wipe samples were taken from around the area to assess the quantity and type of metals being deposited on vertical surfaces. Ozone levels were measured using Eco-badge™ ozone detection kits, and leaf samples were collected and analysed by Lancashire University. Leaves are a natural pollutant collection surface for heavy metals. Using magnetic bio-monitoring techniques the leaves can be magnetised due to the iron present in the pollution particles. All of the data collected was analysed and compiled into a series of maps. A public meeting was held to provide feedback on the findings.
What has Changed?
To date, as a result of the air quality mapping survey the Local Authority have installed diffusion tubes at the main junctions identified by the project as having higher levels of NO2. They are also installing PM10 monitoring stations to get a more accurate picture of PM10 levels in the area. Previously, the closest fixed monitoring station was just over a kilometre away. With the installation of the new air quality monitoring devices the community will be able to obtain data relative to conditions on the estate over a longer period of time.
The community hope to use the data collected during their survey to address issues related to local environmental quality. They want this to form a baseline dataset in view of the proposed housing developments, which will at least double the local population of 6500 people in an area of approximately ½ a sq. mile over the next five to ten years. Some of the questions they wish to investigate are the potential health risks to that increasing population, including any latent effects from the scrap-yard located in the centre of the community, and the possible impact this could have on service demands on GP practices and other NHS facilities.ring devices the community will be able to obtain data relative to conditions on the estate over a longer period of time.