England Using Pigeons To Fight Air Pollution

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Pigeons took to the skies Monday in London wearing tracking sensors to “raise awareness” of air pollution.

Pigeon Air Patrol (PAP), a network of private citizens and “pigeon fanciers,” is running the program. Pigeons wear small sensors and satellite trackers, and will fly around to “raise awareness” about the dangers of air pollution, especially nitrogen dioxide. PAP says their goal is to highlight the damaging impacts of air pollution.

“It is a scandal. It is a health and environmental scandal for humans – and pigeons. We’re making the invisible visible,” Pierre Duquesnoy, who won a London Design Festival award for the idea which created Pigeon Air Patrol last year, told The Guardian. “Most of the time when we talk about pollution people think about Beijing or other places, but there are some days in the year when pollution was higher and more toxic in London than Beijing, that’s the reality.”

Duquesnoy claims the idea was inspired by the military use of pigeons during the First and Second World Wars.

Naturally, the pigeons are on Twitter. Interested Londonites can tweet their location to the so called “Pigeon Air Patrol” to receive air quality updates.

Pollution in London probably isn’t as bad as the pigeons make it out to be. London isn’t even close to one of the world’s most polluted cities; its ranked as the 2,516th worst polluted city in the world out of 3,226, according to a report by the World Bank. A 2014 report by the World Health Organization ranked London’s air pollution as 940th out of 1622 cities.

More than 28,000 people die from air pollution in the U.K. every year, according to government data.

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