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Welsh Tech Firm Lead with Air Pollution Initiative

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Vindico have revealed the latest rollout of their Think Air initiative in line with a Welsh Government event on clean air.

Think Air, which is led by Paul Lewis – Head of R&D at Vindico and Swansea University Professor Emeritus – is a self-funded network of bespoke, low-cost air sensors and software platform.

Originally launched in 2019, Think Air’s sensor network is already live across Wales, where it is helping to gather the data and insights needed to raise awareness and understanding of air quality and Pm2.5 levels across the country. This has been aided with the support of Welsh organisations, and the latest rollout includes Niche, Scarlets Rugby, Cardiff Devils, and Zip World, who are installing Think Air sensors at all five of their sites across Wales.

“It’s the only project in the UK to take on the challenge of understanding background and wide range air quality on this scale, and it’s changing the way we understand and measure the impact of toxic air at a local level,” Says Vindico MD, Jo Polson.

“Think Air is funded by portions of our portfolio work, and it’s making air quality measuring accessible, affordable, and easy to understand. We’ve recently donated sensors across seven UK counties, and have started to educate businesses, schools, and our local councils about air pollution and behavioural change.

“Our most recent rollout has seen Think Air expand across seven counties in the UK, which allows us to collect real time data on air pollution levels in a variety of rural and urban settings.”

Think Air’s recent expansion occurs in parallel with the Welsh Government’s Clean Air White Paper launch. The event – Clean Air & Reducing Emissions from Fuel-Burning – took place on Thursday, 11th March 2021, with Paul Lewis appearing as a key speaker.

Think Air’s recent expansion ties in with Paul Lewis’ new research paper, and his speaking engagement at the Welsh Government’s consultation event: Clean Air & Reducing Emissions from Fuel-Burning, which takes place on Thursday, 11th March 2021.

“Air pollution is an issue that impacts both our health and the environment,” says Paul.

“Despite this, it’s a topic that often takes a back seat – especially when there are more pressing issues dominating the news headlines.

“But the reality is, air pollution is the leading environmental cause of early deaths worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that poor air quality contributes to 5% of all deaths globally, while epidemiological studies have also shown that long-term exposure to air pollution can reduce life expectancy, mainly due to its impact on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

“One of the most damaging pollutants, in terms of our health, is fine particulate matter, which is often referred to as PM2.5, and our research reinforces the need to revise PM2.5 limit values and targets as soon as possible.

“It's quite alarming when you see the figures for care homes, GP practices, and hospitals, along with the potential exposure of both the elderly and patients to PM2.5 levels above the limits recommended by the WHO.

“What’s more, the PM2.5 that we breathe might often come from many miles away, which means we cannot rely solely on modelled data. There needs to be widespread monitoring of this pollutant to get a full understanding of where it comes from and the harm it causes.

“This is where Think Air comes in.

“It’s proving that effective air quality sensor networks don’t have to be costly. It’s also providing us with meaningful data and insights which, led by ergonomics, can be used to develop longer term behavioural change methods that will ultimately benefit the long-term health of people across Wales and the UK.”

Today, Think Air is on track to being the largest live air quality sensor network in Wales – and the largest in the UK by the end of 2021.