RI-URBANS' first stakeholder meeting was held online on May 30th with the objective of demonstrating the project's societal and environmental benefits and informing about the progression of the pilot actions. The stakeholder discussion promoted cooperation and common efforts between RI-URBANS and other air quality monitoring actors. The RI-URBANS' first stakeholder meeting was held online on May 30th with the aim of showing the advancements of the project pilot activities to the stakeholders and bringing together the expertise and feedback from all the actors. A total of 57 participants attended the meeting. Among the stakeholders, representatives of the European Environmental Agency (EEA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), together with delegates from several European Commission institutions (DG-ENV, JRC, or AQUILA) provided valuable feedback on RI-URBAN'S progress during its first year. After a brief introduction of RI-URBANS' challenges, objectives, and strategic pillars by Xavier Querol and Tuukka Petäjä, coordinators of the project, the pilot leaders took the lead in explaining the advancements in each of the pilot cases. Pilot 1 - Near-real-time aerosol apportionment of carbonaceous aerosols Hilkka Timonen, from the Finish Meteorological Institute (FMI), described the main objective: to pilot near-real-time source apportionment tools combining Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (ACSM), organic aerosol, and aethalometer black carbon online measurements, and its related tasks. The pilot is expected to start on 1st January 2023 and the implementation will take place in 13 sites in 7 European countries. Pilot 1 has also started building synergies with the US. Having similar tools to make intercomparisons and obtain comprehensive observations will provide great benefit in the advancement of air quality monitoring in both the EU and US urban environments. Pilot 2 - Near-real time provision of nanoparticle number size distribution data David Beddows, from the University of Birmingham, explained Pilot 2. This pilot provides nanoparticles data and their size distribution from 3 main European cities (Barcelona, Birmingham, and Helsinki), together with 2 volunteer cities (Paris and Athens). The explanation was followed by a discussion between RI-URBANS' coordinators and some stakeholders about ensuring the compatibility of observational data between ACTRIS and Air Quality Monitoring Networks for aerosol size distribution measurements, and the standardization of these measurements. Pilot 3 - Urban fine-scale mapping including innovative modelling, monitoring, and crowdsourcing. Katherin Sartelent (French National Centre for Scientific Research, CNRS) and Gerard Hoek (University of Utrecht) showed the Pilot 3 progress with its objective of describing the urban variability of outdoor exposure to nanoparticles and other pollutants using modelling tools, mobile measurements, black carbon and particulate matter mid-cost sensors, and the citizens’ participation. Some of the campaigns involving different mobile measurement approaches have already started (i.e. Bucharest campaign). The Rotterdam and Birmingham campaigns are expected to start in Autumn 2022. Ultrafine particle concentration (raw data) measured on May, 4. 2022 in Bucharest. | Image source: Doina Nicolae (INOE) Pilot 4 - Novel health indicators of nanoparticles and particulate matter components and source contributions. [...]
The measurements will map the variability and distribution of pollutants across the city and will assess the contribution of pollution hotspots, such as power plants and heavy road traffic. The campaign will be running until mid-June, extending the tasks in winter 2022-2023 based on other work packages' requirements. The Bucharest campaigns, led by researchers from the National Institute for Research and Development for Optoelectronics (INOE), Bucharest, Romania, have just started to implement tasks from RI-URBANS' pilots 3 and 5. RI-URBANS' pilot 3 focuses on mapping the variability and distribution of nanoparticles and other pollutants in the city. Not only the assessment takes into consideration a few fixed sampling sites, but also the horizontal and vertical variability across the city. Within the Bucharest campaign, a mobile platform is taking measures of ultrafine particles, PM1, PM2.5, and PM10 concentrations on a predefined route, from 8:30h-16:00h (including rushing hours), one day per week, if weather permits. More intensive measurements (every day) are planned for 23 May to 13 June. Ultrafine particle concentration (raw data) measured in May, 4. 2022. | Image source: Doina Nicolae (INOE) RI-URBANS' pilot 5 addresses the nanoparticle contributions from urban hotspots: roadsides, airports, industry, and harbours. In the Bucharest campaigns, hotspot monitoring includes two fixed sites (MARS -Măgurele Center for Atmosphere and Radiation Studies- and INCAS, next to the Bucharest Heating Power Plant) and one mobile platform to perform intensive fine scale mapping. Pollution hotspots in Bucharest assessed during the RI-URBANS' pilot 5 campaign. | Image source: INOE Read more about RI-URBAN'S pilot studies following this link.
RI-URBANS project focuses on particulate matter and ultrafine particles to enhance the air pollution monitoring systems in Europe. Ultrafine particles, particles smaller than 0,1 µm, can be absorbed in the lung tissue and quickly enter the bloodstream, causing negative effects on the population. What are ultrafine particles? Ultrafine particles are usually defined as particles smaller than 0,1 µm (100nm) in diameter. To quickly get an idea about their extremely small size, if pollen had the size of a football stadium, the ultrafine particle from diesel soot would be the ball. In urban areas, ultrafine particles, also called nanoparticles, have a major anthropogenic origin, mostly primary emissions from road traffic. However, new particle formation processes can generate also ultrafine particles from precursor gaseous pollutants. This is known as nucleation or new particle formation and can be produced close to the exhausts or photochemically at urban and regional scales. Accordingly, the contributions of these sources to urban ultrafine particles might differ according to climate and emission patterns. TEM photomicrograph of ultrafine particles sampled in ambient air in Barcelona. | Image source: Xavier Querol (CSIC) Ultrafine particles are measured in number concentrations (number/cm3) while standards of atmospheric particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5, particles smaller than 10µm and 2.5µm, respectively) are set up for mass concentrations (µg/m3). The improvements in urban air quality in Europe undergone during the last 15 years allowed to reduce PM10 and PM2.5, but this does not necessarily imply a proportional decrease of ultrafine particles. When particulate matter levels are high, gaseous pollutants tend to condensate on these particles and the mass concentration grows. On the contrary, when particulate matter levels are low but there is high insolation new particle formation might be favoured instead of condensation and this increases the number concentration. Why ultrafine particles might be so relevant for health? Epidemiological and toxicological studies suggest that negative health effects may increase with exposure to decreasing particle size. Due to its nanometric size, inhaled ultrafine particles are uptaken by epithelial cells in the lungs where they can even penetrate the tissue. They can also be translocated to the interstitial space that lies in between blood vessels or can reach directly the bloodstream, making it more difficult for its removal from the body. Another effect of these particles is the lack of macrophage recognition in the alveoli, which impairs the immune system to detect and remove them from the lungs. Ultrafine particles are inhaled and can be absorbed by the alveoli tissue, entering directly the circulatory system | Image source: OpenStax College, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. The association between exposure to nanoparticles and health outcomes is, however, inconsistent in the literature, probably due to: reduced number of studies (compared to studies on PM2.5), lack of representativeness of the few existing nanoparticles measuring sites, hampering their link with health outcomes, differences in measurements protocols differences in source contributions: Whereas in some cities most days with high [...]