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Pigeon Patrol: Birds With Backpacks Measure London Fog

by Lucy Bayly /

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Pigeons wearing tiny, high-tech backpacks have started patrolling England’s capital city to monitor the air quality of the famous “London fog.” The birds sport a GPS device and specially designed sensor, capable of measuring levels of nitrogen oxide, volatile compounds, and other pollutants.

The pigeon patrol is funded by Plume Labs, creators of a personal pollution app that delivers real-time updates and advice on how poor air quality impacts health.

The goal of the three-day London project, named Pigeon Air Patrol, is to “raise awareness and change minds about pollution,” according to Plume's Pigeon Patrol website.

Globally, seven million people die each year because of air pollutants. Plume hopes to help citizens avoid "excessive exposure" by using data and artificial intelligence to track and stay ahead of air pollution.

For anyone concerned about the welfare of the fleet, Plume promises there is a vet on hand to ensure the pigeons’ safety, and that the birds’ backpacks are “as light as a feather.”

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