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TRAFFIC experts in the North East are working on a gem of an idea to help people dodge air pollution hotspots.

The Transport Operations Research Group (Torg) at Newcastle University has developed “smart dust” technology which involves using tiny wireless sensors.

The group is now placing the sensors in jewellery which can be worn by people to tell them what levels of air pollution they are experiencing.

The sensors, which can also be fitted to mobile phones, relay information on pollution hotspots elsewhere which can then be avoided.

This is especially important for people with respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis, and other health conditions.

The low-cost sensors, housed in metal boxes, were attached to 40 lamp posts in Gateshead last November in a trial which is the first of its kind in the world.

The lamp post sensors communicate with each other, and the last one in the line reports real-time information on air pollution levels to an online database.

This can be combined with data from vehicle-counting systems at traffic lights to give a picture of both congestion and pollution.

More info here.

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