Is innovation in environmental protection finally being taken seriously?

There are some news items that genuinely take all of us here at EMSOL by surprise. We had such a news item pop into our inbox this week, with the announcement of innovation charity Nesta’s Grand Challenge on measuring air quality. This looks to set a new standard of measurement for air purity, to ultimately replace the existing standards that are applied in varying ways. In the UK, our air quality standards are set in collaboration with other European nations through the European Commission.

We have long held the view that existing methods of measuring environmental health matters are not as robust as they intend to be – though they at least ensure that you are able to compare different areas. When we have been speaking to local authorities, the message we have received is of ensuring robust measure of the issue at hand, delivered in a consistent manner that enables comparisons over time.

Such measurements cannot stand still, however, and require constant innovation and improvements to detection technology and management systems in order to stay relevant. Current EU standards were adopted in 2008, while the World Health Organization standards were adopted in 2005. As our blog has shown, a lot of research and changes in technology has taken place since then showing the further ill effects of such pollution.

Innovation is critical to not just providing the solutions to tackling the problems of air and noise pollution, but of ensuring continued progress in our understanding of their impacts and actually doing something about it. Perhaps the sector is now getting the innovation impetus that it needs to improve the quality of life in our cities. Or will Nesta’s initiative be a positive, but temporary, response?

Only time will tell.