Exercise improves healthy lungs. Since exercise increases ventilation rate and thereby intake of air, breathing clear air during exercise is of crucial importance. “Healthy Lungs for Life” biking and walking routes in Amsterdam have been added to the tourist city maps (iAmsterdam) as part of a public event that aims to increase awareness among the general public. TNO has contributed to these routes by providing air quality models.
Healthy Lungs for Life is an annual public event linked to the European respiratory Society Annual Congress. Along with the congress, a public event is held this year in Amsterdam (September 26th and 27th, link), with focus on physical activity and clean air. Physical activity is very important to ensure healthy lungs. There is an obvious link between physical activity and clean air. When performing physical activity, ventilation is increased, and hence airways are more exposed to pollutants when exercising. It is therefore important that people inhale clean air while exercising.
To promote exercise in clean environments, “Healthy Lungs for Life” biking and walking routes have been established in Amsterdam. This has been done in collaboration between the European Lung Foundation, VITO and TNO. Air quality was tested by sampling black carbon (www.airqmap.com/HLfL-amsterdam.html) with equipment supplied by VITO. Data obtained during these measurements were combined with modeled NO2 concentrations that were provided by TNO. The routes have been incorporated into the city tourist map by iAmsterdam and are available from the following link: www.healthylungsforlife.org/map.
The most important source of air pollution in cities is usually traffic. During combustion of vehicle fuels, harmful gases and particles are released through tail pipes into the ambient air. . In the air they are dispersed by the wind to other areas and diluted. Because of the high density of traffic and the lack of wind in cities, concentrations may become rather high and exceed limit values.
In the past decades, scientific knowledge on air pollution has increased considerably. Nowadays it is possible to predict air pollution levels using information mainly on the number of cars driving in roads. This information is used in a dispersion model (a set of mathematical equations) and combined with information on wind speed, wind direction and local information on the width of the streets and the height of buildings. Models are validated using measurements at a few locations in the city.
The map shown below (left) is based on calculations with such a model and shows modeled annual average NO2 concentrations. It clearly shows high concentrations downwind of very busy roads (in red) and lower concentrations near less busy roads (yellow). In the more quiet areas the concentrations are even lower (green). These maps have an added value for air quality measurements because they can provide additional information of air quality in areas between measurement locations and during other time periods. The other map (right) shows the predicted annual NO2 concentration along the ‘Healthy Lungs for Life’ walking route.