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Cornwall: co-produced research plan for measuring air quality workshop summary




In October 2023, a workshop was held at Heartlands, uniting a diverse group from the Camborne, Redruth, and Pool community. Participants included representatives from various teams within Cornwall Council, local councillors, researchers, and community organizations. 

The workshop was part of the UK Energy Research Centre’s Whole System Networking Funded EXPO-ENGAGE project, which seeks to involve residents in monitoring air quality within their community. The workshop aimed to lay the groundwork for a research plan concerning an air quality citizen science project in the Camborne, Redruth, and Pool area. This summary presents an overview of the discussions and contributions from attendees.

Underpinning values 

Commitment to valuing and respecting the diverse perspectives and contributions of every member of the community, ensuring inclusivity at every stage of the process.

Research questions/topics 

Ideas were sought about potential research questions or topics that could be explored with an air quality citizen science project. These were: 

  • How does air quality vary: 
    • At different times of day 
    • At particular locations within the area e.g. Camborne train station level crossing 
    • In urban areas compared to more rural areas
    • On routes away from roads compared to pavements adjacent to roads
  • Exploring causes of air pollution: 
    • Measuring air quality alongside levels of traffic
    • Measuring individual exposure when walking/cycling 
    • Wood-burning stoves 
  • Exploring the outcomes of air pollution: 
    • Linking air pollution with health outcomes or the wider determinants of health
    • Comparing the measured level of air pollution with people’s perceptions of air quality 
  • Exploring interventions:
    • For example, public displays of air quality

Who should be involved? 

There should be the opportunity for everyone in the community to be involved in measuring air quality. It is also important that the results are communicated to everyone in a transparent and accessible way. A project should try to include a cross-section of people, for example:

  • of varying ages 
  • with disabilities 
  • from different types of housing 
  • with varying levels of education 

It might also focus on engaging a particular group e.g. families.

Measuring air quality 

Data quality – data collected by the project should be high quality, so that it can be used to create change e.g. by decision-makers. In terms of data, key considerations for the project are:

  • Choosing key measures of interest for air pollution
  • Identifying a suitable timescale and whether measuring over this period will show change
  • Measuring engagement and knowledge about air quality among participants
  • Taking baseline measurements before investigating any interventions

Facilitators – how to reach people 

It should be made as easy as possible to take part by meeting people where they are, investing time in building relationships with the community, and seeking community champions for the project.

Groups to collaborate with or locations to advertise could include: 

  • Community and volunteer organisations 
  • Local parish and town councils 
  • Community centres 
  • Libraries 
  • Existing community events 

It will be important to consider how to reach those not already involved with community groups and organisations.

Facilitators – how to enable and maintain engagement 

People need good reasons to join in, they should know what they’ll get out of taking part, for themselves and for the community.

  • Co-development – to ensure the project and outcomes are interesting to participants and relevant to the community
  • Flexibility – people should be able to take part for as long or little as they want, and communication should be in the format that works for them e.g. in person, online.
  • Respect – with researchers and community members should be equals, with every opinion is valued and respected equally. 
  • Providing payment to enable people to take part 
  • Clarity – on what participating in the project would involve e.g. through accessible information and consent forms. 
  • Resources – training and time are needed so that people to take part and learn and ensure that the project is sustainable and accessible.


It will not be possible to remove all barriers to participation, but they should be minimised as much as possible.

  • Fear around ‘cleverness’ or ability to contribute  
  • Invisibility of air pollution makes it a “harder sell” than more obvious pollution e.g. of water
  • Wider environment around individuals will affect their capacity to take part

How to present the results

Results from the project should be presented and shared in a variety of ways. These should all be concise and easy to read (e.g. collaborate with Cornwall People First).

What are the longer term/broader aims/considerations? 

Specific aims might be to:

  • Raise awareness about air quality 
  • Enable people to make choices to reduce their emissions and/or their exposure
  • Enable people to develop new skills
  • Influence decision-making on air quality in Cornwall 

Send us your feedback

If you have any thoughts and feedback, we will incorporate them as we develop our plans. The primary objective of the workshop was to lay the groundwork for a research plan for air quality citizen science specific to the local area and we continue to build on this.

[email protected]

A permanent record of this summary can be found at the following link:

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