Pigeon Power beats Pollution! (Post No 2690)


Compiled by london swaminathan

Date: 3 April, 2016

Post No. 2690

Time uploaded in London :–  15-01

( Thanks for the Pictures  ) 




(for old articles go to tamilandvedas.com OR swamiindology.blogspot.com)


pigeon 3


Pigeons wearing backpacks with air quality sensors were flown around London for a few days to monitor the air pollution in London.


Ten racing pigeons were released into the capital with GPS devices and a 35g sensor to measure levels of nitrogen dioxide being produced in the city. The birds are then, using the power of the internet, tweeting those who ask for a reading.



Air pollution in London is blamed for almost 9,500 deaths a year, and in one week at the start of 2016 parts of the city breached EU pollution limits.


The project comes from Pierre Duquesnoy, a marketing director from Digitas LBI, who won a London Design Festival competition with the idea June 2015.


The pigeons aren’t the only birds being tested as a solution to technological issues in London. Senior officials from the Metropolitan Police have said they are investigating the possibility of using eagles like the Dutch police.

The birds in the Pigeon Air Patrol carry a rucksack on their backs. It has the instruments to measure nitrogen oxide and the ozone level in the air. Thanks in large part to diesel fumes from cars, London has the filthiest air in the country.

Currently there are 120 stations monitoring air pollution in London but they are in fixed locations. That means there are blind spots. The stations are really accurate but only for the immediate vicinity. The pigeons will cover those blind spots.

When people hear about air pollution, they think of Beijing and Delhi, but in Western cities such as London it is a big problem too.


pigeon monitors

American Idea!

The light pigeon backpacks were sourced from a US firm. Usually they are worn by pigeons trained to fly along canyons in Utah so that walkers can have photos of their trips ready for collection when they return. It takes a special kind of pigeon for this work. These are “professional pigeons”. They are very quick racing pigeons, they can fly at 60 to 80 miles per hour. They live up to 20 years compared with street pigeon’s life expectancy of about four years.  They are beautiful birds and far smarter than people think.

People have always used pigeons for communication. In the olden days they were used to carry letters from one city to another. Even now when communication is disrupted due to natural calamities such as floods and earthquakes pigeon posts are used. In London also the pigeons are used for communication but this is in a very modern way – with twitter. People can tweet with their location and get real time information back.

Following the pigeon campaign, the company wanted to recruit people to wear the devices and share the data they collect.

pigeons 2

London Danger

Millions of Londoners breathed air contaminated with record-breaking levels of a harmful pollutant fir which there is no known safe exposure in March. Every air quality monitoring site in London hit ‘high’ or ‘very high’ during the smog episode from march 10 to march 13.

The minute particles, known as PM2.5, are particularly dangerous because they can penetrate deep into lung tissue and are too small to be filtered by the body’s normal devices. This is caused by the dirty air from industrial areas of Germany, Holland and Poland – as well as from fertilizers being sprayed on farmland drifting towards south east England on an easterly air flow. Once it reached London the air was made even filthier by the usual daily emissions from London’s vehicles, particularly from diesel engines. Longer term exposure to PM2.5 is associated with lung cancer.

Source: London Newspapers; compiled by swaminathan


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