A NEW group is looking to recruit an army of citizen scientists to help make a pollution map of Southampton – a city with some of the poorest air quality in the UK.

As previously reported, pollution is responsible for 110 deaths in Southampton each year and is estimated to cost the local NHS £50 million annually.

Now engineers at Solent Air Watch, a non-profit community project, have developed an affordable sensor called ‘Sniffy’ that anyone can install in their garden or workplace if there’s a WiFi connection nearby.

Sniffy data will then be compared with information collected by Southampton City Council to help discover why and when pollution increases.

The sensors have been designed to measure particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide – key indicators of air quality.

Researcher and PhD student at Southampton University, Josh Taylor, said: “Everyone who has a Sniffy will be able to view the air quality data to get an understanding of the relative air quality people are exposed to.

“All air-quality information from sensors across Southampton will feed into a big data pool, where we will analyse wider implications for the city.”

Josh and the team say the sensors cost £85 to produce, and will be placed in the most polluted places around the city – which includes along the A33 and near the port.

As part of the project, the public will be encouraged to build the sensors themselves at Air Watch workshops.

Chairman of Redbridge Residents Association and Millbrook Saints pub landlord, Eugene McManus, said he welcomed the initiative and would be going to the workshops to have a go at building a sensor.

He said: “We’re in one of the most densely polluted places in the country so anything we can do to help is very welcome indeed as is any research required to help alleviate the problem.”

With funding from Clean Air Southampton and the Co-op’s plastic bag scheme, the project is still in the initial phases but anyone interested in taking part is invited to the weekly workshops at Southampton University’s Boldrewood campus and should contact info@solentairwatch.co.uk