The air quality strongly differs from one place to another in Brussels. But what about your street? This is exactly what CurieuzenAir will investigate. It is the largest and most detailed research project on air quality ever conducted in Brussels. We measured the nitrogen dioxide concentration, a harmful pollutant produced as a result of road traffic, at 3.000 locations across the city. 3.000 CurieuzenAir helped us with the measurements during the month of October 2021. The results will be announced on March 18th, 2022.
Measure the air quality in Brussels as a citizen, school, organisation or company
How good is the air in your street?
Where do we measure?
Any street location within the Brussels-Capital Region qualified for the measurements. Families, schools, associations and businesses could measure the air quality outside their home or office building.
How does it work?
Participating was easy. A real estate panel with 2 sensor tubes was attached to a street-facing window.Partcipants received a measurement kit with easy-to-follow instructions. The measurement started on Saturday 25 September 2021 and lasted for 4 weeks. On 23 October 2021, we collected all the sensor tubes.
How can I participate?
You could register as a candidate site until 13 June 2021. From all submitted locations we selected 3.000 sites across Brussels following strict scientific criteria. Schools are given priority in the selection process. At the mid of June, the selection was announced.
How much does it cost?
We followed the pay-as-you-wish principle and asked for a minimum contribution of € 5. The suggested contribution was € 15. For the project, it costs us an average of € 150 for each site.
Where do we measure?
CurieuzenAir aims to map the air quality in Brussels with unprecedented spatial detail. From the Bois de la Cambre to Rue de la Loi. The air quality varies greatly from one location to another, and because of this, we need measurements in a lot of locations around the city. As scientists, it’s impossible to do this ourselves. This is why we asked citizens to help us with this major scientific challenge.
We had 3.000 measurement kits available. Families, businesses, associations and schools could participate by measuring the air quality on the street-facing side of their home or office building. Measurement sites had to be located in in the Brussels-Capital Region, and we wanted to have a good representation in all 19 municipalities of Brussels.
The measurement set-up is simple to install: a real estate panel that has 2 sensor tubes in its “nose”. This panel is attached to the outside of a window (just like a “real” real estate panel). The measurement is always done on the street-facing side of the building, preferably on a window on the first, second or third floor. We selected measureing points on busy roads and ones with little traffic: these differences between streets and neighbourhoods are precisely what we want to map with CurieuzenAir.
Everyone in your street breathes the same air, so your neighbours could be interested to hear about the project and its findings. Therefore, we provide flyers and posters to inform your neighbours about the measurement results. Schools and companies can also receive an extra communication package to engage students or inform colleagues.
How does it work?
Participants measured the air quality in their street with a simple measuring device: a v-shaped real estate panel attached for 4 weeks to the window. Two small sensor tubes are attached to the “nose” of the real estate panel. These tubes determine the concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the outside air. NO2 is an important indicator for the impact of traffic on air quality. Learn here more about how the sensor tubes actually work.
From all candidate locations, 3.000 sites were selected. The selection was announced mid June 2021. Participants received an e-mail with all necessary information. The measurement kit was send out in September 2021 to a DPD Pickup point of the participant’s choice. The measurement campaign started on Saturday 25 September 2021 until Saturday 23 October 2021. On the last day, the two sensor tubes were returned to the same DPD Pickup point nearby.
The sensor tubes were then analysed in the laboratory and the data was examined by the CurieuzenAir scientists. In March 2022, you will receive a personal report with the detailed measurement results of the air quality in your street. Together with our media partners Bruzz, Le Soir and De Standaard, we will also publish a detailed online map that features all measurement locations. This way, everyone will have access to information about air quality across Brussels.
Is my street automatically selected as a measurement location?
CurieuzenAir was looking for 3.000 measurement locations across Brussels. Registrations were open until 13 June 2021, with 5.000 registrations. Our scientists selected the most interesting measurement sites from a scientific point of view.
The selection process was based on strict scientific criteria. Most importantly, we wanted a good geographical distribution of measurement locations across Brussels (from north to south, from east to west). Additionally, we were looking for different types of streets: from narrow to very wide streets, from very busy roads to traffic-free zones, streets with and without trees. So if we received multiple applications from the same street, we had to select one of them. But the good news is that least one of the neighbours will be measuring in this street.
The concentrations of NO2 are dependent on height. This is why we aimed for measurements that were as much as possible on the same height. The most ideal condition was a street-facing window on the first floor. Sometimes we deviated from this ‘first floor rule‘, and select locations on the second and third floors, because the location was highly interesting.
Schools that applied to perform the measurements were favoured in the selection process. We have a special information package for teachers, which helps with the measurement in class.
How much does it cost to participate?
CurieuzenAir is an innovative scientific project with an important added value for society. Therefore we believe it is important to be fully transparent about how the project is financed.
The actual cost for one measurement is € 150: this includes the sensor tubes, the analysis in the lab, the v-shaped real estate panel, the print material, the communication and the scientific analysis of the data. The project partners, in particular of Bloomberg Philanthropies, provide more than 90% of the project budget. As a result, the participants pay only 10% of the actual cost of measurements. .
It is important that everyone can participate in CurieuzenAir. That is why we only asked for a small contribution, according to the pay-as-you-wish principle: we suggested an amount of € 15, with a minimum of € 5. This contribution went entirely towards the project, and is how we can carry out the CurieuzenAir project from start to finish.