'Citizen science' air pollution monitoring in Highgate Ward

In November and December 2013, volunteers from Camden Green Party and local residents, carried out a 'citizen science' experiment to measure the levels of nitrogen dioxide air pollution in Highgate ward.

The results are shocking, but give us important information about what we can do to improve things.

What we did:

On 9 November 2013, our volunteers placed 21 ‘diffusion tubes’ on roadside posts around Highgate Ward. A month later, on 7 December, we sealed and collected them and sent them to a professional laboratory for analysis. This is the same process Camden Council uses to monitor air pollution at a limited number of locations around the borough.

The key results are:

  • Pollution in Highgate is very high – even on Hampstead Heath, levels of nitrogen dioxide were 39 µg/m3 – only just below the legally binding limit of 40 µg/m3, which is set at a level to protect public health
  • Many of Highgate’s residential streets were around 10% above the legal limit
  • On the larger and busier streets, pollution is much worse – 25% to 40% higher than the limit
  • On the busiest roads, especially near junctions, levels of pollution are as much as double the legal limit, which is very concerning

What can we do about it?

In March we will hold a PUBLIC MEETING in Highgate Ward with Councillor Maya de Souza, to discuss the results and next steps.

Please look out for our leaflets and come along to find out more about the research and the health effects of air pollution. And bring your ideas for how we can make more people aware of the issue and avoiding exposure, and what we can do next to help reduce this problem.

When:  Friday 14th March, 7pm to 9pm
Where: Highgate Library Civic and Cultural Centre Children's Corner,  Croftdown Road N19 5DJ

The results in detail:

Our report has the ful results for each location, and advice on how to reduce the amount of pollution you are exposed to day-to-day.


Local activist Sian Berry helped organise the experiment and was shocked to find the extent of the pollution in the ward.

She says: "I often work on air pollution issues in my job as a transport campaigner, but even I was surprised that none of our monitoring points found even close to clean air in Highgate. I hope this information will be used by local residents to help limit their exposure to the very high levels we found in some places, and that we can work together to come up with some positive steps we can take to improve things."

Explore this interactive map to find out more about the results: