UK's first air pollution dog appears at Mayor's charity event to campaign for change in how fumes are measured in Bucks and beyond
The UK's first canine to monitor air pollution and her teenage owner attended a special mayoral charity event at Chiltern Hills Academy to share their groundbreaking findings.
Bagheera 'Baggy' the Labrador and her best friend Tom Hunt, 13 appeared at the event on Sunday (March 1) hosted by the Mayor of Chesham, which raised money for the Alzheimer's Society and towards a new astro turf pitch for the school.
Baggy and the Chiltern Hills Academy pupil Tom's work has made headlines throughout the UK.
The one year-old Labrador's results shockingly revealed that air pollution is far worse at the dog's height, the same height as a small child, or a baby in a pushchair.
The findings have been recorded around the Aylesbury Vale, including in Wendover Woods where the pair found that pollution from the car park collects in the trees, and walkers are being exposed to fumes.
Speaking at the event to a packed school hall, Tom said: "When we were walking around measuring air pollution, we noticed that the difference in the results was quite catastrophic between mine and Bagheera's..
"Bagheera's lower down and she's next to car exhausts, so she is breathing in much more pollution at that level."
He added: "Bagheera represents a child, and a big point of it is that children are exposed to more pollution than adults and their lungs are not as developed, which is concerning."
The pair regularly walk the streets of Chesham with their monitors on, and recently they were followed by BBC Newsround, for a segment due to air in the coming weeks.
Since the national and international coverage, US air quality firm Atmotube have been in touch with the pair and supplied Baggy and Tom with a state-of-the art monitor to replace the cheaper models they were using, which are also accredited by Government.
This far more accurate reading means the Government cannot ignore their concerning findings.
The Government currently measures air pollution at 9.5 feet, and Baggy and Tom are campaigning for this to change, and that a more representative height is needed, to get a true picture of what we are ALL being exposed to.
They are also urging parents to get pushchairs for their children which house the baby at higher level, protecting them against poisonous fumes and other toxic pollutants.
This charitable event raised funds for the Alzheimer's Society, which is especially significant, as air pollution has been found to be potentially a factor in leading to cognitive decline.
Also present on the night was Mark Shaw, deputy leader at Bucks County Council.
Speaking about Baggy and Tom's important work, which the councillor has taken a special interest in, he said: "The work that Tom and Baggy are doing is really excellent in the fight against poor air quality, where it is and the times that it’s at its worst.
"I am totally impressed with Tom and his commitment to this task and it’s been fascinating working with this incredible lad and his dog who just want to make a positive difference to the quality of people’s everyday lives."
To find out more about Baggy and Tom, and for updates on their air pollution campaign please click here. Tom's dad Matt said: "We would like to invite all ‘concerned citizens’ to Chesham Town Hall to learn more about what we can ALL do to make a difference to make the air cleaner – Please save the date, 2/4/20 at 18:00 to 20:00.
"Volunteers are also needed to support Tom and Bagheera with their ‘Chesham Be Air Aware Campaign".