Real-time data on air quality is being displayed on digital advertising screens in a "first-of-its-kind" project piloted in Barking and Dagenham.

Sensors linked to digital displays were installed at three high-footfall sites across the borough in order to record the levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, known to have a detrimental impact on public health.

The project was installed by Clear Channel in partnership with Breathe London, an initiative run by the Environment Research Group (ERG) at Imperial College.

Barking and Dagenham Post: Sensors monitor nitrogen dioxide and particulate matterSensors monitor nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (Image: Clear Channel)

Senior air quality analyst Andrew Grieve, one of the scientists at ERG behind the project, said: “We hope that by getting into peoples' neighbourhoods, we can raise awareness of air quality because air pollution is still the biggest single environmental risk factor to health in the UK and globally.

“It affects the entire population all the time, from your first breath to your last breath.”

Breathe London collects hyper-local air quality data from around 300 locations in London to provide the London mayor's office with a daily air pollution forecast.

Through installing air quality sensors across the borough, Breathe London hopes to broaden the conversation around pollution, which is particularly dangerous to those with cardiovascular and respiratory conditions.

Other groups at risk include the elderly and children who live in highly polluted areas, since long-term exposure to particulates such as PM2.5 can affect their development, Andrew added.

Data collected from the three sites will also be used by Barking and Dagenham Council to improve its understanding of air pollution across the borough.

Cllr Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said: “We're determined to improve the quality of air in Barking and Dagenham to ensure our residents are living in a healthy environment.

“Launching our Air Quality Action Plan, planting thousands of new trees in the borough and encouraging residents to turn their engines off when stationary are just some of the ways we're trying to do this.

“I am also pleased to see that we're introducing further air quality sensors, so we can really understand the issue in hotspot areas and work out what else needs to be done.”

The three digital displays units were installed at High Road, Station Parade and Wood Lane with air quality data available on the Breathe London website.