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Effective measures to identify particulate matter

Particulate matter is bad for your health. It causes respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disorders and premature death. As a result, reliable data on the origins of particulate matter is badly needed. The TNO web application TOPAS provides policymakers and other interested parties with up-to-date insights into the concentrations and origins of particulate matter in more than 200 European cities.

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There is increasing scientific evidence of the harmful effects of air pollution on health, especially particulate matter. European directives require public authorities to analyse excesses and take measures where necessary. In order to be able to take targeted and effective measures, insights into the geographical and sectoral origin of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) are required.

Identifying the sources of particulate matter

TOPAS (TNO Operational Source Apportionment Service) is based upon air quality modelling developed by TNO, as well as TNO’s knowledge of emissions and atmospheric models. This knowledge is combined with up-to-date weather information and European measurement data on air pollution. TNO has extensive experience in the field of air quality. We’ve been monitoring emissions for Dutch and European public authorities for 30 years. We make air quality predictions for the Netherlands and Europe as well as beyond (the United States, China and South America).

Helping public authorities to make choices

TOPAS gives policymakers much better insights than ever before into the sources of particulate matter. On this basis, precautionary measures can then be taken. Certain sectors are particularly responsible for components of particulate matter that are relatively harmful to health, such as black carbon. The sectoral origin provided by TOPAS therefore also provides insights into the prioritisation of measures aimed at achieving maximum health gains. In this way, TNO offers public authorities assistance in making strategic policy choices in the field of air quality.

Particulate matter map

The result is a particulate matter map on which policymakers and other interested parties can see for each city which sources are responsible for particulate matter in the air. TOPAS offers free data for the last six weeks and is updated every 24 hours. The model is continuously being improved and is largely open source. Policymakers can request longer-term data from TNO.

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Jamilja van der Meulen

  • Climate
  • Sustainability
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