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A citizen’s experiment to measure aerosol pollution in Barcelona

This citizen’s experiment aims to map the concentration of aerosols in Barcelona.

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

A citizen’s experiment to measure aerosol pollution in Barcelona

- Based on the technology iSPEX, to participate in the experiment you need an iPhone 4 or 5, an add-on for your smartphone, a free App and light.

- The experiment "BCN Breathes" will be running from September 15 to October 15 in 4 different Observation Points of Barcelona: Barceloneta, Collserola, Diagonal and Montjuïc.

The practice of sports has become a daily activity in our lives because of their positive impact on our health and physical well-being. In Barcelona, thousands of people enjoy the city’s outdoor spaces for running, skating, cycling or walking. Given the geography and the structure of the city, different areas have been established as suitable places to practice sports or simply for use as a "green" circuit. Despite being considered sports areas, we do not really know the quality of air we breathe when exercising in these spaces. Surely many athletes would be interested to know how clean the air is that they breathe during their regular outdoor work-outs in the city.

This new initiative, proposed and organized by ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences, seeks to promote the understanding of the properties and behaviour of aerosols in the atmosphere and their effects on the environment, involving Barcelona’s citizens in a scientific experiment using their smartphones and light.

ICFO coordinates this experiment in Barcelona in collaboration with the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), a center of the ISGlobal alliance, and included within the Citizen Science Office of BCNlab. From September 15 to October 15, any citizen who owns an iPhone 4 or 5 can participate and measure the concentration of aerosols in 4 strategically chosen observation points of the city: Barceloneta, Collserola, Montjuïc and Diagonal.  The sites where chosen because of their frequent use by Barcelona residents for sports, especially running.

It’s easy to participating. Anyone who wants to be part of this initiative can come to an observation point and ask the institute volunteers for the loan of an add-on. Participants download the free application to their iPhone 4 or 5, attach the add-on to their iPhone, point to the sky and measure. In order for the experiment to be a success, each observation point will need to gather data from at least 50 different iphones performing the measurement in a specific block of time. Accomplishing this, it will be possible to reconstruct the map of aerosols of Barcelona with sufficient reliable statistical data.

This initiative is part of the LIGHT2015 project, which coordinates the implementation of the experiment in ten major European cities in parallel: Paris, London, Manchester, Milan, Rome, Berlin, Copenhagen, Belgrade, Athens and Barcelona. ICFO, CREAL and the Citizen Science Office of BcnLab invite all interested in knowing the quality of the air we breathe in Barcelona to join us in this initiative. Come take part in a great European-wide experiment against pollution!

Here, the link to the iSPEX-EU experiment:


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