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ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre researches the use of ozone in eliminating listeria in food sources

Cardiff Metropolitan University’s ZERO2FIVE is a centre providing technical, operational and commercial support to food businesses across the UK.   As well as employing food and drink technologists, ZERO2FIVE also works with senior lecturers and professors from the university. Microbiology lecturer, Dr James Blaxland is part of this initiative and has built an ozone testing chamber to research the use of ozone to eliminate listeria in food sources.  To do this, he has recently purchased a 2BTech 106 ozone monitor from UK company Air Monitors.

Dr Blaxland’s role at the ZERO2FIVE food industry centre focuses on the decontamination of the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes from both food and food preparation areas. Listeria is the causative agent of listeriosis, a rare, but potentially life-threatening condition which typically affects certain groups of people, which includes; those who are immunosuppressed, pregnant or elderly.

Listeria is a huge problem in the food and drink industry and with the help of the 2BTech’s 106 ozone monitor, James and his team have been looking at how effective ozone is on different surfaces.

They also have a sensory analysis suite where they can see if ozone has an effect on taste, colour and smell of certain foods. Can the public tell the difference? That is a key question for the food manufacturers to ensure that the public don’t notice any discernible difference.

James says, “The 2BTech Ozone monitor has been producing great results since we started the research a few months ago and so far, growth of different strains of listeria have been found on different surfaces and the aim is to minimise, if not remove this going forward. As well as listeria being present on food sources, it can also contaminate medical devices and hopefully ozone can be used for the removal of these bugs.”

Caroline Bennett, Air Monitor’s Technical Sales Executive added, “we have enjoyed seeing how the Cardiff Metropolitan University’s ZERO2FIVE centre has used the 2BTech Ozone monitor and have been really happy to have helped this project along.”

The University are looking to set standards with this ongoing testing and will be working alongside ‘Ozone Industries Limited’ who are a major provider of ozone generator applications for the control of odours and micro-organisms in both air and water for a wide range of commercial, industrial, and domestic markets.

About 2BTech

2BTech, based in Colorado produces a wide range of instruments for the air monitoring industry including ozone disinfection which combats viruses and therefore protects human health. 

About Air Monitors Ltd

As part of the ACOEM group, Air Monitors represent many of the world’s leading environmental technology manufacturers. Our aim is to provide monitoring solutions which encompass the very best products, technology and services designed specifically for British & European Environmental compliance.

About Cardiff Metropolitan University

Cardiff Met has a strong purpose – to deliver high quality and high impact practice-focused and professionally recognised education, research and innovation in partnership with our students and industry. Comprised of 5 schools, as well as the ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre, Cardiff Met has over 20,000 students from 143 countries.  The University is the first in Wales to be awarded both the prestigious Small Business Charter and the Social Enterprise mark in recognition of its work with business, and its commitment to supporting students in enterprise and entrepreneurship activities.

About ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre

The ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University brings together a unique collaboration between industry-experienced technical, commercial and operations managers and respected academics.

With the support of the Welsh Government, ZERO2FIVE is able to work with c150 Welsh food and drink companies every year. ZERO2FIVE engages with companies and organisations of all sizes and stages of growth to provide support with factory design, start-up advice, new product development, third party accreditation and global food standards compliance (including BRCGS and SALSA), food safety and security, food and labelling legislation, nutrition, market analysis and marketing. In addition, ZERO2FIVE provides strategic technical direction for inward investment and export initiatives.

A day in the life of an Air Quality Service Engineer

Marius Barbulescu has been a service engineer at Air monitors for over 4 years. He says that the best thing about his job is that every day is different, so this article will describe the many functions of a service engineer, without focusing on one indivdual day.

Background

Marius is Romanian by birth and prior to joining Air Monitors, he spent 7 years working with the Romanian national network of air quality monitoring stations. He travelled to the UK after his wife secured a job working as a nurse for the NHS, and was delighted to find a role with Air Monitors that enabled him to utilise the skills and experience that he had gained in Romania.
Based from home in Sheffield, Marius is responsible for servicing, maintaining, repairing and calibrating air quality monitoring stations in parts of the north of England. This work covers national networks and reference stations, as well as AQMesh pods. As part of a growing nationwide team of 10 engineers, Marius’s work is coordinated from Air Monitors’ head office in Tewkesbury.

What are your main roles?

Routine service work for air quality monitors starts with a check that readings are accurate, although this can often be achieved remotely where web-enabled communications are fitted. However, the engineers carry gas and particulate standards as well as a flow meter and an ozone generator, so that the accuracy of readings can be assessed onsite. Consumable parts such as o-rings, seals and filters are replaced during a normal service. Air Monitors engineers also carry laptops and PAT testers, so a full suite of tests are undertaken to check the condition and performance of all instruments. In most cases, minor repairs can be conducted using the equipment and spares that are stocked in each engineer’s van. However, in some cases, it may be necessary to return the instrument to Tewkesbury for more major work. In these circumstances, many customers have a contract which includes the use of loan instruments whilst equipment is away for repair. Similarly, some customers have a ‘Hot Spares’ contract under which Air Monitors guarantees the provision of spares within 72 hours.
In addition to service work, Air Monitors’ engineers are also responsible for new installations. Marius believes that this is a particularly important aspect of the job because it enables him to ensure that instruments are located and installed correctly, and configured to meet the specific requirements of the customer. With the eye of a service engineer, it also enables him to ensure that installations facilitate simple ongoing maintenance and calibration.
One of the reasons for the variety in Marius’s work is that he is also available for call-outs when customers request an urgent site visit. This means that whilst head office manages his travel plans to minimise non-productive, fuel-consuming driving time, he might find himself in Newcastle one day and in Manchester the next. Nevertheless, call-outs generally involve less time, because whilst most sites have between 1 and 6 analysers, a call-out is generally only for one of them.

What are the best parts of the job?

Marius now has a young son, so family time is important and the flexibility of his job enables him to create a good work/life balance. As part of a team, Marius is able to discuss common issues (via WhatsApp) with his colleagues, but he manages his own time, which he says is a major advantage.
For Marius, one of the more enjoyable aspects of the job is the rate at which Air Monitors has been growing. This means that new contracts are being won and new products are being developed, which results in an even greater variety of work. The company has recently been acquired by ACOEM and Marius believes that, as a larger group with greater resources, this will enhance the capability of the services that can be provided and create even better job prospects for the future.
Another feature of a rapidly growing, profitable group is the ability to invest in training and resources. This is particularly important for Marius because it is vital for him to have the appropriate skills, equipment and spares when on-site.

What are the worst parts of the job?

Marius had to think long and hard to answer this question, but eventually he smiled and said: “rain… and maybe not having three arms.”

What changes do you foresee in the future?

With regard to air quality monitoring technology Marius has observed enormous changes in recent years. Monitors have become more reliable, smaller and easier to work with. Power requirements have dropped, service intervals have grown, and advances in communications mean that many issues can be resolved remotely. In addition, the value of data has grown as it becomes easier to share. With this in mind, one might suspect that less service engineers will be required, but Marius believes that the opposite is more likely. Politicians, the media and the public are growing increasingly concerned with air quality, so the thirst for data, and especially local data, is growing. At the same time, AQMesh pods have made it possible to obtain good quality data in almost any location at a relatively low cost, so, as has happened with Breathe London which now has over 100 pods, the number of monitors in the UK is growing exponentially.
Looking forward, Marius believes that the rapid growth in the number of air quality monitoring locations, coupled with web-based availability of hyperlocal data, will mean that citizens will start to include air quality in their everyday decisions, such as which travel routes to take, where to play, which school to attend and even where to buy a house.

Summary

As Managing Director of ACOEM Air Monitors, Felicity Sharp believes that service engineers are fundamentally important to the ongoing growth and success of the company. “As part of the ACOEM Group, we are focused on the development and utilisation of instruments that offer accurate, reliable, cost-effective data. By investing in the training and support equipment that our engineers need, we can ensure that our customers benefit from minimal downtime and long-term reliable data.
“As our business continues to grow, we are always looking for new talent to join Marius and the rest of the service team.”

New UK partnership to provide more accurate & informed air quality monitoring

ACOEM has entered into a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work collaboratively with Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (CERC) and FHCO (Cambridge).

After working closely on a number of projects, including the highly successful, award-winning Breathe London program, the three organisations have combined their expertise to provide the first truly holistic, state-of-the-art air quality ‘triangle solution’ of modelling, monitoring and management. Under the direction of Jim Mills (Founder, Air Monitors Ltd now ACOEM Air Monitors), David Carruthers (Technical Director, CERC), and Prof. Rod Jones (Principal, FHCO Cambridge), each part of the triangle is crucial to ensuring accurate and timely air quality data management. 

From compliance to informed intervention

Until relatively recently, governments and agencies responsible for monitoring environmental conditions were doing so purely to comply with regulations. However, this is no longer enough, and now these same authorities are looking to go beyond compliance, and invest in intervention techniques like restricting vehicles or tempering industrial activity to safeguard a more sustainable future.

The ability to make informed decisions based on quality monitoring data, accurate predictive modelling and specialised management is invaluable to any intervention model. Governments need to understand which intervention strategies are working and which are not. They will also need to rely on accurate data that considers the effect of weather, such as wind bringing pollutants from other regions, and periodic anomalies.

Identifying and distinguishing the source of pollutants

It is critical to be able to access a calculated emissions inventory that factors in the ratio of CO2 pollution to other emissions. To do so, modelling and mapping must be undertaken in a spatial context. The strategic solution devised by ACOEM, CERC and FHCO will not only improve pollution predictions but will also provide longer term accurate data and monitoring that will determine if the predictions were correct.

By using smart data analysis methodology developed by the three partners, vital information can be extracted from the initial monitoring data. An emissions index for combustion sources can be calculated by analysing the ratio of CO2 to other pollutants such as NO2, NO, PM, SO2, BC, etc. This provides information on source apportionment, to accurately identify the exact origin of the pollutant, and can assist a city or region in developing a more precise emissions inventory – an essential part of any air quality management strategy.

Automatic calibration of entire air quality monitoring networks

This scale separation technology can also be effectively utilised to calibrate networks of sensors or monitors, without the need for expensive, labour intensive calibrations. Scale separation will significantly lower running costs compared to traditional or transfer standard methods. Once the algorithms are established, they can automate the calibration of an entire network, providing a dynamic quality control mechanism which can alert outliers.

Combining scientific and technological advances

Each partner brings specific expertise to the table. ACOEM is a global leader in reference quality and hyper-local small sensor air quality monitoring technologies including the implementation of hundreds of AQMeshTM pods by ACOEM Air Monitors.

CERC successfully integrates its model and mapping techniques with hyperlocal data from fixed and mobile networks to accurately forecast air quality conditions days in advance, assess policy options and disseminate data to the public and the scientific community.

FHCO synthesis and interprets measurements and provides essential scientific inputs from Prof. Jones’ extensive experience in atmospheric science and meteorology to ensure ongoing quality management.

“This exciting collaboration provides the opportunity to combine high resolution data from ACOEM hyperlocal small sensor air quality monitoring networks with CERC’s state-of-the-art air quality model, ADMS-Urban, together with FHCO (Cambridge)’s advanced analytical techniques,” remarked David Carruthers, Technical Director at CERC.

“By doing so, we can greatly enhance air quality mapping, source apportionment, air quality forecasting and policy analysis in cities across the world,” he added.

“I see this as an important and strategic step forward for air quality monitoring, combining our collective skills to improve the depth, quality and value of information produced,” commented Prof. Rod Jones, Principal, FHCO (Cambridge).

“By doing so, we can take air quality activities into the realm of effective policy development, testing the benefit of intervention measures and ideally driving behavioural changes by the public.”

“The partnership allows us to tackle emission inventories in a new, more innovative way,” said Air Monitors Ltd Founder and now ACOEM Head of Strategic Business Development, Jim Mills.

“We now have the opportunity to really make profound changes to the way cities manage their air quality, helping to pinpoint where monitoring should be performed and identifying when steps should be taken to prevent incidents of exceeding the air pollution limit.”

Breathe London wins SMART 50 Award

The Breathe London project has been announced as the winner of a SMART 50 Award by Smart Cities Connect, in the Digital Transformation category. Created to better understand Londoners’ exposure to air pollution, Breathe London combines the latest technology with new data analytics, delivering real-time air quality data at a hyperlocal level in the city.

The monitoring technology employed in the project’s network of over 100 AQMesh pods and in two Google Street View Cars was supplied by ACOEM Air Monitors. Company Managing Director Felicity Sharp congratulated all of the partners in the Breathe London project. “This has been a tremendous collaborative effort, and I am delighted that our work is being recognised globally.

“The benefits of hyperlocal air quality data are already being realised in London and we hope that this can be recreated all over the world. The measurement of air pollution at an unprecedented scale and scope helps to identify pollution hotspots and informs the design and assessment of mitigation measures. It also provides local information that helps citizens take their own pollution reduction initiatives and make informed decisions such as where to walk, cycle, play and live.”

“London’s pollution problem is a health crisis, and we are proud to be part of this ambitious project shining a light on air quality,” said Elizabeth Fonseca, senior air quality manager at Environmental Defense Fund Europe, one of the project’s leading partners. “Lessons learned from Breathe London can help other cities trying to gain a better understanding of their pollution and protect public health.”

Monitoring data from the AQ Mesh pods is compared against data from London’s existing regulatory grade monitoring network. Both open-source and available for download, the stationary and mobile data are presented on an innovative platform to improve the public’s understanding of the varying presence of pollution across both time and space. See www.breathelondon.org.

By assessing and documenting the benefits of policy interventions, such as London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, Breathe London is lowering the barriers for other cities to undertake sophisticated monitoring and modelling, and informing smarter, targeted policy.

A representative from Environmental Defense Fund Europe will be presented with the Breathe London award at the 2020 Smart 50 Awards Gala, which takes place during April in Denver, Colorado.

Air quality addressed by media ‘Eco’ event

One of the UK’s media organisations recently organised an environmental day near London in which a range of experts were invited to give presentations on key themes such as climate change, recycling, tree planting, sustainable construction and air quality.

Air quality consultant Jim Mills provided an overview of the current air pollution issues, and described the development of ‘Breathe London’ – a collaborative project in which his previous company ACOEM Air Monitors installed over 100 AQMesh air quality monitoring pods in London, and equipped two Google Street View cars with air quality monitors.

To help raise awareness during the day, an AQMesh pod was installed locally, and visitors were invited to guess the average nitrogen dioxide levels during the day. The monitoring result showed an average level of 19.9 µg/m3, which compares with the EU yearly average limit of 40 µg/m3. Commenting on this data Jim said: “The pod was located away from a busy road, so it was disappointing that the levels were this high on a quiet back street. It is very likely that pollution levels would be higher closer to the main road, and this would be likely to affect the health of  anyone living or working in that area. Nevertheless, it is impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions from just one day of data – continuous long-term monitoring would be necessary.”

London’s air quality goes online

Detailed information on London’s air pollution will today start to be published on breathelondon.org, the website for a new collaborative project to paint a clearer picture of the city’s air quality. The readings are being provided by a network of AQMesh air quality monitoring pods supplied and installed by Air Monitors, part of the ACOEM Group.

The AQMesh pods are stationary – mostly mounted discreetly on lamp posts, but the pod data is being supplemented by measurements from instruments that have been installed by Air Monitors in two Google Street View Cars, as they travel the city’s streets.

Visitors to the Breathe London website will be able to view almost live data (within an hour) on nitrogen dioxide; one of the urban pollutants of greatest concern.

“This is a major step forward,” says Felicity Sharp, Air Monitors Managing Director. “The availability of highly localised air quality data is critical to the empowerment of citizens so that they can make choices that affect the quality of the air they breathe.

“In the past, air quality data has not been sufficiently local to allow most citizens to change the way they live their lives, but with the benefit of this website they will be able to choose where they want to walk, run, play, go to school or even buy a house.

“The data will also help to raise awareness and thereby encourage citizens to choose more environmentally friendly transport modes, particularly in pollution hotspots.

“Importantly, the data will also help national and local government to assess the effectiveness of air quality improvement measures. So this is great news for London, and we hope that it will be replicated in similar smart city projects around the world.”

Tree Planting

We have signed up to the Plant a Tree scheme through Carbonfootprint.com and have planted 12 trees across 12 regions.

Planting is a great way to help sequester carbon emissions. Through photosynthesis trees absorb carbon dioxide to produce oxygen and wood. By ensuring that the trees planted are native broad leaf species you can help to preserve the UK’s environment and biodiversity. Planting takes place in school locations and other  biodiversity sites. All trees are high quality cell grown ‘whips’ (year old saplings).  


   By supporting the programme not only are we planting trees in your region, we are also be helping to: 

  •    Provide wildlife habitats & support biodiversity
  •    Plant native British trees
  •    Enhance the natural UK landscape
  •    Offset CO2 emissions

We have planted trees in:

East Midlands, East of England, North West, South West, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, West Midlands, London & Thames, North East and Yorkshire & Humber and this equates to 12 tonnes of CO2 offsetting, or 1 tCO2e per region.

Air pollution on track to exceed limits at four out of five Breathe London sites

Environmental Defense Fund Europe (EDFE) together with Mayor Sadiq Khan have released the second wave of data from Breathe London, an ambitious collaborative project to measure and map air pollution across the capital.

In addition to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) measurements from the network’s 100+ stationary pods, the interactive map now includes preliminary data from the Google Street View car drives as well as current and average pollution data for fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

The new data confirms a concerning trend: Air pollution across the capital remains dangerously high. Four out of every five pods, including 90% of schools in the network, are on track to exceed World Health Organisation (WHO) annual guidelines for PM2.5, which is linked to a wide range of adverse health effects. Additionally, preliminary analysis of the mobile data shows NO2 is on average over 50% higher on major through roads than quieter, local roads.

The findings indicate that action at the national level is needed to cut pollution and create healthy, breathable cities.

Felicity Sharp, Managing Director of Air Monitors, the company that supplied the AQMesh pods and also fitted the Google Street View Cars with air quality monitors, said: “This is a great example of the synergy that exists when data from a network of stationary pods is supplemented by mobile data; each format helps to further improve the quality of pollution assessment, delivering insights that help government and citizens to take effective action to transform pollution exposure levels.

“We have fitted vehicles with air quality monitors before, and we have installed networks of stationary monitors, but this is the first time that we have done both at the same time, in the same city. The result, is hyperlocal data – enabling the assessment of air pollution on a street by street basis.”

Particulate matter
Small airborne particles like dust, soot and drops of liquids can create PM. Most PM pollution formed in urban areas is from fossil fuels used in vehicles, construction equipment, heat & power (including wood burning) and commercial cooking.

PM2.5 is made up of tiny particles, which penetrate deeper into the lungs and are linked to lung disease, heart attacks, strokes, asthma and cancer, as well as shorter life spans. This pollution is particularly dangerous for young people – studies show that PM₂.₅ exposure can impair childhood lung development.

Health guidelines
Breathe London’s data from the stationary network suggests that over 80% of the pods are likely to surpass WHO long-term guideline for PM2.5. In other words, the annual average concentration of PM2.5 pollution – at the vast majority of measuring sites – is at unsafe levels. Moreover, although thresholds for PM have been set as general guidelines, there is little evidence to suggest a safe threshold exists below which there are no adverse health effects. Despite the recognition that PM is not safe at any level, it is currently legal in the UK to have pollution levels above what is recommended by the WHO.

Polluting traffic
Since autumn 2018, two specially-equipped Google Street View cars have been driving London’s streets to measure air pollution. Data from the drives undertaken so far are now visible on the map. When comparing pollution readings from busy versus quieter streets, preliminary analysis reveals NOis on average over 50% higher on busy major through roads than on quieter, local roads*. Like PM, pollution from NO2 is linked to a variety of health impacts, including aggravating asthma and adversely impacting lung function in children.

National action
Breathe London’s data is further evidence that the UK needs clear, new duties and policies to clean the air and protect public health. Yet there is little urgency in the Government’s recently-released Environment Bill, which was eagerly anticipated as the first major environmental legislation in over 20 years. Despite the opportunity to create far-reaching, ambitious new rules for limiting harmful air pollution, the Bill does not go far enough in setting firm, legally enforceable targets. EDFE has suggested an alternative framework to help pinpoint pollution sources and create new duties for the Government to address emissions.

PM2.5, NO2 and other harmful pollutants are currently at dangerously unhealthy levels across the capital. Using granular data to help target policies and cleaning up the most significant sources of pollution would go a long way towards creating cities that are healthier for all.

The Breathe London data will also be available on the new Air Quality Data Commons (AQDC), an open-access data platform where people can share and use data from low-and medium-cost air quality sensors.

Comparison assumes error is random. Additional analysis will be conducted after mobile data collection concludes.

Glasgow schools seek to lower vehicle pollution

Schools near Glasgow have been monitoring air quality as part of a project aiming to reduce the levels of pollution emitted by vehicles as they drop off and collect children. The project is part of a ‘Beat the Street’ initiative that was granted £50,000 from a new £1million fund to increase walking, cycling and sustainable travel in Scotland. The overall aim is to cut Scotland’s carbon emissions, improve air quality, reverse the trend towards sedentary lifestyles and tackle health inequalities.

The Environmental Health department of East Renfrewshire Council supplied and installed the three AQMesh air quality monitoring pods that were utilised in the project. The monitoring activity followed initiatives in eight schools organised with SEPA, in which the children designed their own air quality banners as part of a competition. 

The banners were then placed outside the schools which were then monitored for two weeks with an AQMesh pod measuring a variety of parameters including nitrogen dioxide – one of the pollutants of greatest concern. The Council’s Richard Mowat said: “We used one of our own AQMesh pods and rented the other two from Air Monitors. The pods are small and easy to install so we were able to locate them close to the areas most affected by parents’ vehicles.

“The results clearly showed significant peaks in pollution during the drop-off periods and it was pleasing to note how well the project was received. We hope that this work will help educate the children and that they, in turn, will encourage their parents to leave the cars at home and walk whenever possible.”

Anne-Marie Absolom is Head Teacher at one of the participating schools – St Clares Primary School. She said: “Our Junior Road Safety Officers, and all of the school staff, are delighted that we have had the opportunity to install temporary air quality monitors in our car park.

“We have been campaigning throughout the year to improve air quality in and around our school. The children have also been learning about the small changes that they can make – changes that will make a big difference to the quality of the air we breathe.

“The results from the monitors have highlighted the specific times of day at which air pollution is most significant, and the Junior Road Safety Officers are now campaigning at these times. The data gathered has been shared with all children in the school and they are passionate about spreading the word and ensuring that air pollution is reduced.”

As well as supplying the monitoring equipment for the project, Air Monitors also provided sponsorship funds for the school banners, and this was reflected in a stunning night-time time display on the roof of Glasgow’s famous SEC Armadillo, organised by SEPA. A variety of images relating to air quality were projected on to the Armadillo’s roof, highlighting for example Clean Air Day 2019, as well as the Air Monitors logo.

SEPA’s Dr Colin Gillespie said: “It has been great to work again with Air Monitors and the councils, raising awareness in air quality around schools, promoting active changes to reduce pollution and encouraging pupils to think about more sustainable forms of travel.”