Sign up for NPL updates
Sign up for NPL updates

Receive regular emails from NPL to get a glimpse of our activities and see how our experts are informing and influencing scientific debate

Environmental monitoring

Air quality and aerosol metrology

Accurate and traceable measurements of air pollutants

The impact of air quality on global human health, the climate and the wider ecosystem is of major international concern. It is essential to deepen understanding and drive innovation into the measurement of air pollutants to robustly assess compliance with legislation. This will inform domestic and international policy to protect public health and the environment. The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) delivers world-leading research into the accurate and traceable measurements and characterisation of air pollutants and aerosols.

Research and development

NPL conducts transformative research into novel, characterised reference particle sources and measurements of emerging pollutants from new sources. We develop novel sensor validation, testing facilities and data algorithms for air quality sensor networks and the group is working towards traceability for measurements of black carbon and particle surface area.

We have extensive expertise in developing low-cost sensors for an array of applications. The Multiple Atmosphere Controlled Environment (MACE) is a world leading type testing facility for evaluating the performance of gas sensors and assisting industry in developing new products to meet the monitoring requirements of air quality legislation.

Measurements for industry

NPL partners with industry to maximise the impact of its scientific expertise in air quality and aerosol technologies and allow access to its world-class facilities. Examples include calibration, testing and analysis of air quality in different environments.

Supporting policy and regulation

NPL provides confidence in measurements to assess compliance with air quality targets. This inputs into the evaluation of evidence-based policy and development of new policies. We manage the delivery of three of the UK’s ambient air quality monitoring networks for the Environment Agency and Defra.

Thought leadership and knowledge transfer

Our knowledge leadership is demonstrated across a range of committees and advisory groups including membership of Defra’s Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG), the Welsh Government’s Clean Air Advisory Panel (CAAP) and the CCQM Gas Analysis Working Group. We have developed numerous documentary measurement standards and written publications, delivering best practice including Best Available Technology (BAT) and Publicly Available Specification (PAS) documents.


Contact us

Our research

Our research addresses a number of measurement issues associated with emissions, from atmosphere of pollutants and GHGs to the impact of these emissions in terms of ambient air quality and changes in our atmosphere’s composition.

Our services

Find out how our experts can help you access more reliable insights about the impact of environmental factors on the world around us.

Our team