Pollution and the Citizen ScientistPublished: Wednesday, 17 October 2018
‘Canary’ is the Beelife pathway for pollution investigation using Citizen Scientist apiarists to facilitate the understanding of pollution distribution - particularly heavy metals - across the Manchester area.
The Beelife platform (http://bit.ly/uom-beelife) is The University of Manchester’s research apiary. Initiated with the intention of providing a test-bed for technical solutions, which address strategic threats to the honey bees, and to support the strategies set out by the UK Government. Coalescing around this platform is an informal grassroots network of researchers across the University with an interest in social responsibility, population health, agri-food, food security, and how technology can be leveraged to better address specific issues related to their research domain.
‘Canary’ is the Beelife pathway for pollution investigation using Citizen Scientist apiarists to facilitate the understanding of pollution distribution - particularly heavy metals - across the Manchester area. A key strategic priority is environmental sustainability. Canary will help to monitor and sustain biodiversity in the Manchester Oxford corridor, as well as educating younger generations on the importance of sustaining our habitat for wildlife in the urban environment.
We have Research Scientists participating from Computer Science and Earth and Atmospheric Science here at Manchester, and from the School for Resource and Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University in Canada,
Taking inspiration from work already underway at Frankfurt Airport and the National Honey Monitoring Scheme (which is focused on pesticides and pollutants which affect our bees). We, are interested in pollutants which affect humans and their distribution.
Samples of honey collected by MDBKA Citizen Scientist Apiarists are firstly have their organic material digested; the resultant inorganic material is analysed on a mass spectrometer. This enables us to understand the chemical composition of the inorganic pollutants in the sample. These distributions are subsequently plotted on a map of the North West by postcode area. Once complete, transport and industrial distributions are then overlaid onto this map and correlations between postcode areas and between postcode areas and industrial and transport intensity are calculated.
We can then see how pollutants are distributed, if there is any relationship to industry or transport patterns, and by joining with the ‘Britains Breathing’ project (http://bit.ly/BritainBreathing, http://bit.ly/BritainBreathingPaper) , how population health in terms of respiratory disease is affected.
Finally, Canary, is a pilot project - which if successful - can be expanded to cover more areas, this should give us a more complete picture of pollution in the North West.