DPD’s vehicles are being used as mobile air quality monitors, measuring the amount of harmful particles in six UK cities to help councils with their policy making.

Project BREATHE is already in full swing in London, with 100 sensors on the roofs of DPD vans and 20 fixed units on the delivery firm’s PickUp shops close to schools and play areas.

It said that by the end of the month, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff will be included in the initiative and delivering 1.5m pollution readings a day.

DPD said the sensors, which are the size of a broadband router, take readings every 12 seconds and are focused on monitoring PM2.5 fine particles.

Its UK rollout is part of a Europe-wide programme by DPD in partnership with air quality tracking provider Pollutrack.

DPD said that once the sensors are installed and monitored for two months, it will provide air quality information for local councils to help in their policy making.

The data will also be available to DPD customers and academics.

Olly Craughan, CSR head at DPD, said: “BREATHE is a hugely significant project for us and complements our 2025 strategy to deliver via electric vehicles to 25 cities in the UK.

“Typically, air quality monitoring has just been based on fixed positions, whereas we are mobile and cover the whole of a city at different times.

“We will be providing real-time, breathing level readings that could help improve air quality for millions of people.”