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Make your own sensor and join Brussels’ air quality network
A Brussels organisation is encouraging residents to assemble their own fine particle sensors and hang them on their windows. That way they will know exactly how big of a problem pollution is in their own neighbourhoods.
InfluencAir – a co-operation between citizens’ groups Civic Lab Brussels and Clean Air Brussels – already organised a few hundred such do-it-yourself air quality sensors in the capital. The idea was inspired by a similar citizen-run initiative in Stuttgart, Germany.
Toon Nelissen is one of a handful of Brussels residents who first made a measuring device after discovering the German website. Brussels has eight functioning measuring stations for fine particles, he told Bruzz. “Each station costs between €8,000 and €50,000. Our sensors are less accurate, but they can be made for a fraction of the cost. The value is in how the systems complement each other. The more local measurements you carry out, the smaller the margin of error.”
It costs about €35 to make your own sensor with materials available in electronics and DIY shops. After an info evening in June on how to get the materials and build one, a few hundred went up across Brussels.
The InfluencAir website has tutorials on how to make a sensor and connect it to the system. It also has another info evening planned in September, but it’s already booked solid. The twice monthly Civic Labs meetings, however, can also be useful for getting more information.
There are also air-quality collectives in Ghent, Leuven and Bruges. “Most people take part because they want their voices to be heard,” Dries Van Ransbeeck of Open Knowledge Belgium told Bruzz. “They want to participate, to influence policymakers. Their data will speak for itself.”
Photo: Camille Delannois/BELGA