Air pollution from industrial facilities, transport systems and other sources can have a negative impact on public health. Using information from satellite- and ground-based sensors, as well as computer modeling, the European Union (EU)-funded PASODOBLE project has developed a European-wide system, called “Myair”, to deliver essential air quality data to environmental officials, doctors and hospitals, as well as to the public at large.
The project is expected to support the improvement of public health and living conditions in Europe’s cities and regions where health can be most affected by air quality.
PASODOBLE’s “Myair ” system delivers air quality information geared towards a wide range of researchers and scientists, including health-care professionals who treat people with respiratory illnesses, environmental agencies that monitor air pollution conditions, local government officials that issue air quality forecasts, as well as tourism and sports organisations.
“Overall the project has been a success,” says Julian Meyer-Arnek, PASODOBLE’s deputy project coordinator and a physicist at the German Aerospace Center (DLR). “We are helping environmental regulators find air pollution outbreaks, countries meet EU standards, and doctors and hospitals better anticipate patients’ needs.”
Europe has numerous “hotspots,” Meyer-Arnek says, where air quality conditions are prone to reaching potential harmful levels due to pollution and insufficient air movement. Among these areas are London, Italy’s Po Valley (including Venice), parts of Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
“In particular, Italy’s Po Valley is frequently affected because when the Alps block westerly winds, emissions such as nitrous dioxide from industrial plants and cars can become trapped,” explains Meyer-Arnek.
PASODOBLE project team is working to improve air quality forecasts in many large cities including Helsinki, Athens, Rotterdam, Sofia, Brussels and Thessaloniki. For example, in London the project researchers are supporting “airTEXT” service, which provides street-by-street air quality information. The service was officially recommended for the 2012 Summer Olympics by London’s mayor. Moreover, doctors in southern France are working with a hospital in Nice and one of the PASODOBLE project’s partners to help patients with respiratory problems.
“The data provided by the “Myair” system is customisable and delivered in a user-friendly way,” says Meyer-Arnek. “Everything is accessible by the public and the information can be adapted to the specific needs of a certain city or region,” he concludes.