The AIRbezen project is a clever word pun on the Flemish of Antwerp dialect word for strawberries (jarrebezen) and, obviously, the word air. By examining the leaves of strawberry plants, AIRbezen maps the air quality of a city or province.
Strawberry plants are distributed among families, schools or associations, who give the plant a place on the windowsill. After 2 months the strawberry-hosts cut off a few leaves and bring them in at the distribution points. The researchers at the University of Antwerp then measure the concentrations of particulate matter on the leaves, thus revealing to what the plant was exposed.
AIRbezen is a real citizen science project in the sense that citizens actively participate in a research project. There is a strong interaction between participants and the University of Antwerp, whereby citizens collect data, the university interprets said data and the results flow back to the citizens. The project was successfully applied for the first time in 2014 in Antwerp, but soon expanded to schools, East Flanders and projects abroad.
AIRbezen came to be thanks to a number of enthusiastic volunteers, Stadslab 2050 and the Department of Bio-Engineering Sciences of the University of Antwerp. If you have more questions about past projects or want to collaborate with us, you can reach us at AIRbezen@uantwerpen.be