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Finnish team to pilot air quality monitoring technologies in China

Vaisala, a Finnish manufacturer of environmental measurement technologies, has partnered with the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) to monitor air pollution in China with the aim of developing a next-generation air quality station capable of 3D modelling.

Using a dense network of observation stations around the city of Nanjing and the Yangtze River Delta between 2017 and 2019, Vaisala and its partners aim to develop air quality services and applications crucial to local air quality forecasts. The project will provide tools to better understand the complex air quality environment in the country, and will endeavour to add a vertical monitoring component to facilitate 3D air quality modelling.

The project aims to advance several growth areas in ambient air quality monitoring, including supplementary air quality networks; remote sensing for vertical pollutant profiling; and advanced air quality modelling and nanoparticle monitoring.

The key technologies to be deployed in the project have been developed in Finland and are now being piloted at the SORPES research station, which provides a unique platform to test different versatile instrument setups for air quality monitoring in Nanjing. The pilot will be led by Vaisala and will be built around a collaboration project between the University of Helsinki and Nanjing University.

Air quality is a growing health problem around the world, with more than 80% of people living in urban areas exposed to air pollution levels that exceed World Health Organization (WHO) limits. According to the most recent WHO assessment, approximately seven million people died prematurely in 2012 due to air pollution.

Jarkko Sairanen, executive vice president for the weather business area, Vaisala, said, “Being able to measure pollutant concentrations in a dense network and apply modern modelling tools to this data makes it possible to deliver air quality forecasts, which are far more meaningful and relevant for the citizens than those currently. Further, it will enhance the capabilities of authorities and decision makers as well as consumers to undertake more meaningful actions in a timely manner. Having a proof of concept for this type of network in a Chinese setting will be a requirement for successful novel business build for air quality networks.”

The adverse health effects of air pollution are caused mainly by aerosol particles suspended in the near-surface air, with additional contribution coming from trace gases like ozone. Concentrations of aerosol particles have increased considerably in China over the past decades, and the most populated regions have experienced frequent and severe air pollution episodes in recent years.

- October 2017

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