Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

EU research project proves that personal choice can dramatically improve urban air quality

30.06.2003


Stop smoking and leave your car at home. Encouraging people in cities to make simple lifestyle changes, such as using alternative forms of transport to the car, can significantly reduce their exposure to harmful air pollutants. The findings of the first in a series of Europe-wide air quality studies was announced today in Brussels by European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin and Didier Gosuin, Environment Minister of the Brussels-Capital Region. The first phase of the “Population Exposure to Air Pollutants In Europe” (PEOPLE) project took place in Brussels during a 12-hour period last October, using 125 volunteers carrying special sensors to monitor their levels of exposure to benzene, a carcinogenic substance produced by traffic and smoking. Similar surveys have also been conducted in Lisbon, Bucharest and Ljubljana.


Figure 1: Map showing maximum exposure zones and benzene distribution levels in Brussels on the day of the campaign (22 October)


Figure 2: Relative influence of the variables considered in the personal exposure model



Announcing the results of the project, Commissioner Buquin said: “Air quality laws can only truly be effective if they are understood and endorsed by those they are meant to protect – European citizens. Research projects such as PEOPLE are key to providing decision-makers, environment and health professionals, as well as the general public, with a clearer understanding of urban air pollution and its impact on health. The knowledge gained by this important research will help us to shape our decisions on traffic and transport issues and encourage people to make healthier lifestyle choices.”

Leaving the car at home can improve your quality of life


Benzene is a carcinogen responsible among others for leukaemia. It is found in petrol and is generated by urban traffic. It is also a good indicator for other traffic pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile hydrocarbons and particulate matter. Benzene monitoring therefore points to exposure to other pollutants and is the first carcinogen to be regulated by EU air quality directives. PEOPLE clearly identifies tobacco smoking and traffic emissions as factors increasing levels of exposure. PEOPLE also confirms that the active participation of local authorities and the general public is essential for implementing the EU air quality legislation.

Brussels volunteers get personal with cutting-edge research methods

Some 125 Brussels residents participated in the pilot stage of the PEOPLE project in Brussels on 22 October 2002. Participants were selected according to well-defined criteria: non-smokers unexposed to traffic (control group), smokers, people using private transport, public transport commuters, cyclists and walkers.

Participants carried a sensor for 12 hours to assess their personal level of exposure to benzene. Measurements were also taken over a 24-hour period at a wide range of indoor locations – such as homes, offices, shops, schools, bars and restaurants and public transport. Volunteers carried a newly developed passive sampler enabling short-term measurements.

Towards a benzene-free city?

The tests showed that benzene concentrations in people’s houses were twice that of the city background air with a median value of 6.4 micrograms per cubic meter; in bars the benzene concentration was high, median value of 10.8 micrograms per cubic meter; and in cars, median value of 27.5 micrograms per cubic meter.

Outdoor measurements were also taken to assess the levels and distribution of benzene throughout the city. Complementing the passive sampler measurements, data from a monitoring network was used to assess the yearly average concentration of the pollutant.

On the day of the campaign pollution levels in Brussels complied with the yearly average value of 5 micrograms per cubic meter, limit set by Directive 2000/69/EC, except in areas with dense traffic. Measurements from the continuous monitoring network show that benzene levels in Brussels in 2003 as being approximately half those observed ten years ago.

Calling more people to participate in PEOPLE survey

Benzene emissions studies were also conducted in Lisbon (22 October 2003) and more recently in Bucharest and Ljubljana (27 May 2003), and will be followed by further campaigns in Madrid and Bucharest (autumn 2003). The study will be extended to other cities in 2004. Belgrade, Dublin, Paris, and Rome have all expressed interest in being associated with the project. PEOPLE will be extended to other toxic pollutants in the future, placing emphasis on particulates. The Commission, in co-operation with local authorities, invites volunteers to participate in the next steps of the project.

More information about the PEOPLE project may be found at:
http://www.people-pt.net/eindex.html
http://www.jrc.cec.eu.int/

| European Commission
Further information:
http://www.people-pt.net/eindex.html
http://www.jrc.cec.eu.int/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins
16.11.2017 | Florida Atlantic University

nachricht Climate change: Urban trees are growing faster worldwide
13.11.2017 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>