May, 2021 - By WMR
Researchers at Imperial College London are researching on the effects of specific roadside systems that deflect particulates away towards pedestrians and shield residents from the adverse effects of air pollution using airflow simulation techniques.
London Weather, a tool operated by the London Air Quality Network at Imperial College, provides real-time data on air emissions in London and south east England. Dr. Tilly Collins of Imperial College's Centre for Environmental Policy was especially worried about this problem after witnessing extreme emissions in the air during watching her kids play netball in a school playground beside a busy London A-road.
Researchers are actively working on new ways to address these 21st-century challenges, as air pollution is becoming an incredibly serious public health threat. However, vehicle exhaust could be a concern throughout a city, pedestrians walking alongside busy roads are especially vulnerable. It's particularly difficult for children and they're closer to the ground, where the airborne pollutants collect over time. Furthermore, vortexes in the air above pedestrians will trap exhaust near pedestrians.
According to the university, experiments of these models showed that the barriers would "effectively scatter and reflect pollution back into the roads and would very easily and inexpensively boost air quality for pedestrians". The systems, will likely limit visibility for people searching for incoming cars as well as motorists checking for cross-traffic at intersections. Furthermore, the researchers conclude their results are promising enough to warrant further investigation.
Any motorways in countries including Germany and the Netherlands also have inwards-curving walls which project traffic noise back into the road and away from residences. Dr. Tilly Collins from Imperial College London was inspired by this – and also the engine-noise baffles seen at airports – and imagined curved roadside barriers which might deflect emissions back into cars. She then continued to build basic airflow models which reproduced the impact of such systems in partnership with Dr. Huw Woodward.