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Air Quality Garden – Sheffield Botanical Gardens

24 July 2019

In last week’s blog, we focused on what was being done in Sheffield to tackle air pollution. This week, we are discussing the UK’s first Air Quality Garden, located in Sheffield Botanical Gardens. This garden is able to monitor the effects of pollution on plants and subsequently the effects it has on our health.

What is an Air Quality Garden?

An Air Quality Garden (aka Air Pollution Garden) encloses plants that are sensitive to the damage from the nasty pollutants in the Ozone. The plants aid the identification of regions that absorb the highest intake of dangerous pollutants. A ‘Phyto-sensor’ toolkit was created by the Citizen Sense research group at the University of London to help identify the best locations for Air Quality Gardens.

Why is this important?

As discussed in last week’s blog, Sheffield obtains illegal levels of air pollution factored to road transport and the industry and is said to be one of the most polluted cities in the UK, despite efforts to limit this. Exposure to poor quality can result in various human health problems such as strokes and cardiovascular issues; therefore, serious action needs to be taken to reduce this.

How does this work?

Although air pollution is invisible, the garden will alert people to the damaging effects of pollution through plants changing their pigments. So far, species that are most sensitive to pollution such as snap peas, clover, lettuce and wheat have been planted with plans to add much more. There is information shown on the site which informs the public about the plants’ ability to absorb chemicals, and similarly the damage it can do to humans.

Who is involved?

The University of Sheffield, University of Leeds, University of York and the Air Aware team at Sheffield City Council, have worked closely together to create this project to raise public awareness of air pollution. Furthermore, children from a local primary school and a handful of home-school students aided the organisation of the garden and have been able to learn about the importance of good air quality along the way.

What is the aim of the project?

The project aims to raise awareness of air pollution, tangibly, with hope to change people’s perspectives on what they can do differently. Although actions are already in place to reduce traffic pollution, this project is the next step to positive change.

Have you visited Sheffield’s first Air Quality Garden yet?

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