What "activity data" means in the context of air quality measurements


Citizens can support the organizations like the Air Quality Organization of Västmanland (AQO) - and the municipalities forming part of the AQO and that are responsible for the air quality management - by generating two types of information:

  • Air quality data (measurements): Here the citizens can collaborate by facilitating data from sensors they run themselves, but even better to support the efforts of the responsible organization to perform monitoring at relevant and prioritized locations. This includes offering locations to install a monitor (gardens of individual houses, balconies and terraces), help authorities with the operation and security of installed monitors, report specific events that may have influenced the measurements etc.

  • Activity data: Air pollution is generated by specific activities, e.g. cars and trucks passing a specific road, an industry generating emissions in a stack or just emitted in a “diffusive way” within the industrial area, by residents burning waste or biomass in their gardens, by residents using wood to heat their houses etc. These emissions may be quantified with the use of emission factors, e.g.; the emissions of one single car with a specific technology running 1 km at a specific speed, or a certain amount of pollution during the generation of a specific energy/heat amount within a house. The total emission can then be calculated after multiplication of an activity (number of cars passing a specific location each day, the generation of sufficient heat per year to obtain a good temperature in the house during all seasons). Emission factors are available in the literature, however the activity of polluting activities has to be mapped individually for each location within a city.

How activity data becomes useful:
Activity data is essential to create an emission inventory for a specific area. Based on an emission inventory and access to meteorological information, it is possible to run dispersion models that can map the air pollution and its variations over an area. Activity data of large emitters (e.g. industries, major trafficked roads) are often available. However, there are often locations where smaller emissions may have an important impact over the population living or working close to this place, and these activities may be important to quantify in order identify potential air pollution hot spots.

Examples of areas where the AQO of Västmanland is interested to obtain citizens support to generate activity data:

  • In the AQO domain there are two monitoring stations, both located in traffic environments, so called “street canyons” (location where surrounding houses reduce the ventilation and the air pollution impact will be higher). In both these street canyons the concentrations of PM10 (coarse particles) exceed the European air quality standards. AQO is searching for other street canyons in their domain and would be helped by citizens support, either for providing locations to install air quality sensors and video cameras registering traffic passing by, but also to support observations of road dust generation and the conditions of the street surface.

  • Residential wood combustion may generate exceedances of air quality standards. AQO is trying to detail the wood combustion emissions of each residential house, especially in areas where the houses are close to each other and where central heating facilities are lacking. Citizens may contribute to report their use of wood, which type of wood and how they operate their stoves or fireplaces.

  • The is an important concern of the air quality at schools and preschools. Local traffic is often determining the air pollution levels. A problem is that many parents use cars to take/fetch their children, creating not only air pollution but also security risks with traffic congestion at specific hours. In order to be able to deliver “hard facts” of this practice, AQO would like to know more details of this activity.

  • Sometimes air pollution generation is taking place at a specific place and for a specific period. One such example is the transport of gravel needed during the building of a new European highway within the AQO domain. Heavy trucks are delivering the gravel, passing through a specific residential area (e.g. we know of such a current issue in the city of Kolsva, Sweden) with a notable generation of road dust (or dust from the transported gravel, not covered or protected on the trucks). This activity will continue over a longer time and the AQO is interested to know more on the number of trucks passing, the time for each passage, if notable dust can be seen etc.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.