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How is air quality measured?

a 2021 report A study by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) found that 37% of countries do not have a legal requirement to monitor air quality, and experts are concerned about how strict it is in many others.

“Air quality monitoring and transparent access to data through the platform World Environmental Affairs Officeis of great importance to humanity as it helps us understand how air pollution affects people, places and the planet,” said UNEP Chief of Big Data, Country Outreach, Technology and Innovation Division. Alexandre Cardas said.

“Using this data, governments and countries can identify air pollution hotspots and take targeted action to protect and improve human and environmental well-being and our future. ‘ he adds.

So how is air quality measured? How is this data processed and what can governments do to improve monitoring?

How is air quality measured?

Air pollutants come from a variety of sources, including man-made emissions. use of fossil fuels Vehicles, cooking, and natural sources such as sandstorms, smoke from wildfires and volcanoes.

Air quality monitors are equipped with sensors designed to detect specific pollutants. Some use lasers to scan the density of particulate matter in a cubic meter of air, while others use satellite imagery to measure the energy reflected or emitted from the earth.

Pollutants associated with human and environmental health impacts include PM2.5, PM10, ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. The higher the density of pollutants in the air, the higher the Air Quality Index (AQI), a scale from 0 to 500. An AQI of 50 or less is considered safe and a reading of over 100 is considered unhealthy. According to UNEP partners IQ Aironly 38 out of 117 countries and territories showed average healthy AQI measures in 2021.

How is air quality calculated?

The Air Quality Databank processes measurements from government, crowdsourced, and satellite-derived air quality monitors to produce aggregated AQI measurements. These databases may evaluate data differently based on reliability and type of contamination measured.

UNEP collaborates with IQAir to create the first real-time air pollution exposure calculator Combining global measurements from 2021 Verified Air Quality Monitor Available in 6,475 locations in 117 countries, territories and territories. The database prioritizes PM2.5 readings and applies artificial intelligence to calculate hourly exposure to air pollution for nearly every country’s population.

How can governments improve oversight?

Air quality monitoring is particularly sparse in Africa, Central Asia and Latin America, despite their dense populations, and people may be disproportionately affected by air pollution. Governments must adopt laws that make oversight a legal requirement while investing in existing infrastructure to improve data reliability. Meanwhile, integrating the use of low-cost air quality monitors will improve air quality management in developing countries, Caldas said.

“Low-cost air quality monitors are easy to deploy and significantly reduce operating costs, making them an increasingly viable alternative to public services in remote areas and regions where government-operated stations are not available.” he added.

UNEP is responsible for analyzing the status of global air pollution initiatives and providing early warning information to facilitate international cooperation on the environment. For example, UNEP supports Kenya, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Uganda UNEP also aims to provide technical assistance to more than 50 countries, including Senegal, Botswana, Argentina and Timor-Leste.

“UNEP is committed to expanding its expertise in air quality monitoring to help countries address the air pollution crisis,” said Caldas. “Governments must also make concerted efforts to strengthen air quality controls to protect the health and well-being of people around the world.”

UNEP was created to combat the far-reaching effects of pollution on society. #BeatPollution, strategies for rapid, large-scale and concerted action against air, land and water pollution. This strategy highlights the impact of climate change, loss of nature and biodiversity, and pollution on human health. Through science-based messaging, this campaign will: pollution free planet Important for future generations.

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