four air pollution images displayed on easels

The Air Pollution Citizen Science (APoCS) project involved Professor Francis Pope and Dr Carlo Luiu from GEES, international audio-visual artist Dr Robin Price and colleagues from Leiden University Margaret Gold and Marin Visscher.

It provided training for citizen scientists to adapt and expand a photographic light painting technique developed by Robin Price to generate dialogue around air pollution and its effects on local community wellbeing.

The collaboration between academic and citizen scientists, digital artists, and local communities generated new tools to effectively engage and empower communities.

The three-day workshop “Luchtkwaliteit in Beeld” (Air quality in photo) carried out in June in Leiden involved citizen scientists comprising professional and amateur photographers and environmental activists.

The workshop explored:

  • the wider social and health implications of air pollution,
  • how citizen scientists can use photographic light painting to visualise air pollution and change the narrative to raise awareness and tackle air pollution
  • how to build low-cost air quality monitoring sensors
  • learning how to use the photographic light painting technique and taking a set of expeditions to identify the best location in Leiden to take pictures to visualise air pollution

An overview of the activity of the workshop is shown in this video.

A set of 6 pictures from the citizen scientists was selected to represent the project at the Nacht van Ontdekkingen (Night of Discoveries), an art and knowledge festival carried out in Leiden in September. At the festival, the research team engaged the citizens of Leiden on “how to make the invisible visible” and identified locations in Leiden where the photographic light painting technique might help to identify air pollution hotspots.