Vigilantes del aire
The plants are, through their leaves directly in contact with the air, monitoring stations for environmental pollution. Over time, particles that are present in the air accumulate in their leaves. By applying biomagnetic techniques we can identify which compounds are in the leaves and therefore in the air. And by doing an aggregate study we know the concentration of pollutants in the air of Spain. Previous studies have already shown that the concentration of pollutants correlates strongly with the volume of traffic and with other agents such as trains or trams. Vigilantes del Aire is a project that replicates in Spain the Airbezen project of the University of Antwerp, the result of the collaboration between Professor Samson Roeland and the Ibercivis Foundation. Traffic-related emissions are emissions from exhaust and from wear or corrosion of the brakes and engine. With Vigilantes del Aire we want to apply the concept of biomonitoring and citizen science. In some cities in Spain air quality is already measured in stations, but we want to do it hand in hand with citizens to involve them first hand in the research process and raise awareness for environmental care. Advanced technologies are usually used in electronic devices and automatic sensors, or even apps on smartphones. In Vigilantes del Aire we want to propose a more open and humane alternative, relying on traditional processes such as watering a plant, pruning it, or sending a letter by post. In the center, we put plants as living beings that we can all take care of and maintain. Environmental research: The leaves given to us by citizens will be analyzed in the laboratory by a magnetization method that will allow us to obtain the amount of magnetizable particles that have been deposited on the leaves. The magnetizable particles come mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, from the wear and tear of brake discs and other elements such as the wheels on the rails of trains and trams. Once the pollutants in each sample have been identified, the concentration will be analysed at a local level in the different cities selected, and an aggregated study will be carried out at a national level. With these data, different maps will also be made, which will be uploaded to this website. All participants will be notified of the results of their samples and the scientific results will be openly shared.
The objective of the project is to know the state of air quality in different locations in Spain. To this end, strawberry plants are used as mini environmental stations with which to control the concentration of heavy metals in the air. This is the first national edition of the project. The final objective of the project is to draw up a map of air quality in Spain. In this first edition, 5 cities have been selected with the intention of adding other cities in future editions. Together with the plant, a small sheet of paper will be handed out explaining the steps to be followed to carry out the experiment correctly (technical specifications, care of the plant, times and method of sending the leaves...).
How to participate
Citizens only have to go to one of the collection points indicated (announced by social networks, press, radio, TV), and can take home a measuring station, in this case a strawberry plant. By taking responsibility for looking after one of the measuring stations, the citizen is making a commitment to science. Therefore, it is important to take care of the few cares that this plant requires. Together with the plant, a small sheet of paper will be handed out explaining the steps to be followed to carry out the experiment correctly (technical data sheet, care of the plant, times and method of sending the leaves...). Both the sample of leaves and the card to indicate in which place and conditions the plant has been, together with a small survey, are sent by post. Each participant receives the plant free of charge together with a pre-stamped envelope with Ibercivis' address printed on it.