RI-URBANS kick-off meeting: improving air quality monitoring capacities in Europe

The project will focus on nanoparticles and atmospheric particulate matter, their sizes, constituents, sources, and gaseous precursors It seeks to implement new service tools that contribute to improving air quality in European cities The European Commission funded project, RI-URBANS, has been officially launched with the aim to provide advanced service tools from atmospheric research infrastructures to better assess the air quality in Europe. The kick-off meeting took place online on 5-6 October 2021 with more than 90 participants from 28 partners across Europe. The project was introduced by the coordinators Xavier Querol (Spanish National Research Council Spain, CSIC, Spain) and Tuukka Petäjä (University of Helsinki, UHEL, Finland) with the European Green Deal specific action project outlook by the Jimena Arango-Montanez (EC Project Officer). RI-URBANS brings together 11 cities and 28 partners across Europe in its objective of implementing advanced air quality monitoring observations in cities and industrial hotspots. This is a golden opportunity to apply advanced air quality research to assess on the health effects of air pollution and on cost effective policies to reduce it, not only for the conventional air pollutants but also for non-regulated ones”, declared the researcher and RI-URBANS coordinator Xavier Querol. To pursue its strategy, RI-URBANS (which stands for Research Infrastructures Services Reinforcing Air Quality Monitoring Capacities in European Urban & Industrial AreaS) will focus on ambient nanoparticles and atmospheric particulate matter, their sizes, constituents, source contributions, and gaseous precursors, evaluating novel air quality parameters, source contributions, and their associated health effects to demonstrate the European added value of implementing such service tools. “The project brings together local air quality monitoring networks and European Research infrastructures on atmospheric composition (ACTRIS and IAGOS). This allows two-way interaction to develop and pilot novel service tools and harmonize data streams in real city environments with a pan-European coverage” underlined UHEL professor and RI-URBANS coordinator Tuukka Petäjä. During the kick-off meeting, the RI-URBANS concept, scientific basis and research tools as well as planned research activities in the project were presented and discussed. In particular, these included topics of novel air quality metrics and advanced source apportionment service tools in urban environments (i.e. ultrafine particles and volatile organic compounds; off- and online source apportionment of ultrafine particles and particulate matter; and profiling observations). The health effect assessment of particulate matter and its components, nanoparticles, and their source contributions is also a crucial part of the project. The project will also focus on improving regional/urban modelling and emission inventories for policy assessment. RI-URBANS will also improve modelling and emission inventories for policy assessment and will implement five pilots in nine cities (Athens, Barcelona, Birmingham, Bucharest, Helsinki, Milano, Paris, Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Zurich) to test and demonstrate these services for advanced air quality monitoring systems and evaluation of human exposure. Moreover, RI-URBANS will upscale service tools; elaborate engagement strategies with stakeholders; and disseminate/ knowledge transfer the obtained results through various communication channels. The Russian sister projects to RI-URBANS also delivered presentations about research infrastructures development for assessing air quality in the Moscow megapolis, and [...]