Wexford Council Air Quality Monitoring

Turnkey's Topas used to provide live air quality on website and text alerts, to discourage bituminous coal burning.

When Wexford County Council in Ireland had an issue with burning of bituminous coal affecting air quality, they approached Turnkey Instruments for a solution. This is the description of project in their own words:

Smoke from chimneysIn 2014 we decided, due to a lot of non-cooperation of the public who were purchasing bituminous fuel outside Wexford town and then bringing it in to use in their own homes, to install a live PM10 monitor and then stream the results live on the Council's website, as well as give text alerts when the results go above the 50 μg m-3 limit. The thinking behind it was to try to get the public to think about what they are doing and to highlight the link between their continuing to burn bituminous coal and the impact this is having on the environment, and also how this impacts on those people who have asthma or other respiratory diseases via the text alerts warning them to not go out due to poor air quality due to the burning of bituminous coal.

The equipment we installed was from a company "Turnkey Instruments Ltd" in the UK. We chose their equipment because the equipment calibration is traceable under the UK MCERTS, which is the UK's Environment Agency of England & Wales (EA) Monitoring Certification Scheme. There are others out there, some more expensive, some a bit cheaper, but they met our requirements under certification, cost etc.

Topas instrument in lamp post box Cherry picker at installation siteThe equipment is fairly simple to install. It just requires an electricity supply and a connection to broadband (simple, but can be a bit time consuming as we had to organise all of the equipment and ancillary equipment installation).

We got a local contractor to install 200 mm diameter galvanised poles which are up to 6 metres high in our major towns, and the equipment is installed at about 4 metres. The cost of the pole was approx €1,500 and its installation about €1,300. Bringing power to the pole was close to €2,000, which included installation of an ESB meter pillar and meter (ESB insisted on a metered supply), the drawing of cables to the pole and installing a sealed socket box on top of the pole, and then energising the supply. Our broadband is wireless at Wexford Town, but Eircom cable at New Ross and Enniscorthy. These cost about another €800 for initial installation. The equipment itself was about £6,295 (note this price is in £!).

The total price was about €13,000 per site.

Plot of air quality dataWe needed the assistance of our IT section to get somebody to program the router with the necessary ports open on it to allow the equipment connect to the Turnkey servers in the UK. It is from this server we are able to capture the live data in the form of a graph, and again our IT section incorporated this into the Council's web page. (The link is not working fully at the moment as we are having to send the equipment off for its annual recalibration; we will in future do this in July or August so as to not interrupt the monitoring during the winter period.)

The annual ESB running costs will be nominal according to our Energy Officer, but we need to budget for annual recalibration (Turnkey turn off the server link if not in calibration), equipment checks every 3 months or so to change a small filter (hire of a cherry picker), but it is fairly trouble-free.

We hope to install equipment at Gorey this year also.