Measuring air quality for a healthy environment

Thema:
Urban air quality

Poor air quality has a major, negative impact on our health. That is why we are studying the air quality and the effects of emissions using sensor networks. Based on these insights, the authorities can take appropriate measures. We are also working on innovations that improve air quality. This is how we ensure a healthier future.

Air quality measurements on a personal level

An important step we are taking is mapping out air quality on a personal level. We provide insight into air quality by setting up large-scale sensor networks in collaboration with industry, authorities, citizens, and knowledge institutions.

We do this, among other things, in the concept of 'exposome', which focusses on the total exposure to emissions of a person during his or her entire life. We are also working on a personal point-of-care test for the chemical industry. This enables an employee, at the end of the day, to see whether he or she is still under the limit values for the hazardous substance benzene.

Identifying sources of particulate matter

We link real-time, validated concentration maps to exposure maps and identify the source of contamination. This enables us to map out exposure to emissions. We map out the source, as well as the effect on our health. This makes it possible for municipalities to create efficient policies. The progress and effect of this policy is then tested and monitored again using the measurement network.

View the real-time air quality map

And see what the air quality is like in the Netherlands and Europe and what the source is.

Measuring air quality with citizens

Through citizen science, we can gain access to large amounts of information. Citizen science means that citizens participate by providing data. We use this data for our models and then make it available through apps and websites, among other things. This allows us to identify emissions from industry at an early stage. And, in the case of emergencies, we can immediately warn and predict effects. In addition, we measure the air quality in a city in collaboration with citizens. And together we devise measures to improve air quality and, therefore, health.

Regional Monitoring Network TNO

Fred Hartendorf, air quality expert, explains what we are doing to improve the air quality and how we will continue to do so in the future.

Innovative Air Quality Monitoring Network

In Eindhoven, in a large consortium (the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the Municipal Health Service (GGD), Utrecht University, and AiREAS, an association that works to create a healthy living environment), we are working with surrounding municipalities and the province on the Innovative Air Monitoring Network. What is the air quality like in Eindhoven? What aspects influence this and to what extent does it affect human health? And what can we do to improve health locally? Especially as Eindhoven is growing, policy makers want to include the healthiest options in the city's design.

Particulate matter sensor

We are working on particulate matter sensors that provide insight into the composition of substances in the air and the effect of these substances on air pollution. And, therefore, the impact on health. We are making this technology applicable in the smallest possible sensor that every employee, cyclist, etc. can carry with them. Using sensor data and our calculation models, we create real-time air quality maps. We use mathematical models to immediately identify the source of the particulate matter. In this way, we address the source and reduce the health impact.

Application of sensor data

One of the causes of poor air quality is traffic. To ensure improvement, the local government can do a number of things. One option is to divert traffic or reduce the speed limit. But the government can also give personalised advice to citizens on the quickest, shortest, and healthiest bicycle route to work. Using data from the sensors makes it possible to offer this advice in real time. The citizen receives the advice and information digitally, for example, via apps that businesses will be building. Privacy is an important issue in our research, as is the question of the best way to provide feedback and disseminate the processed data.

Microplastics in the air

These days, there is also the concern about microplastics. We find the minuscule plastic granules in the air, water, cosmetics, and even in our food. However, while the use of plastics continues to increase, little is known about its health risks. With research into the presence of microplastics in the environment and their effect on people, we help to develop policies and ultimately a healthy environment.

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