The University of Aveiro is studying how to improve air quality
José Pichel Andrés/DICYT The Centre of Environmental and Marine Studies (Centro do Estudos do Ambiente e do Mar, CESAM) of the University of Aveiro is part of the European project APPRAISAL (Air Pollution Policies for Assessment of Integrated Strategies At regional and Local scales), which from 2012 to date has been studying different practices in European Union countries when assessing and managing air quality.
The main aim of the project is to help to improve air quality; to this end it has been collecting information on the current practices of the member countries of the European Union so as to assess and manage this subject. From this information the experts taking part in APPRAISAL will identify the shortcomings and propose new methodologies, as DiCYT was told by Ana Miranda, the director of this work at the University of Aveiro.
The main contribution of the University of Aveiro has been the creation and making available of a database on plans for improving air quality in the European Union to which several project members have contributed. This archive now includes data on 60 plans from different countries (http://servizi.appraisal-fp7.eu/appraisal/faces/pages/public/quest_info.xhtml).
The Aveiro researchers also carried out a case study of the Oporto region, where a methodology is applied for the full assessment of the air quality that relates the costs to the profits. In other words, the costs of the measures taken for improving air quality are considered in terms of benefits to human health. “This relationship generally indicates a greater benefit than the cost associated with improvements in air quality”, the expert affirms.
After 36 months of work, the project concludes in May 2015 with a large number of results. In addition to the database and all the information this provides, it emphasises the importance of an orientation document on best practices in air quality assessment and management. This document was the basis for the application of the integrated assessment methodology in both Oporto and Brussels.
Air quality in the member states is measured in accordance with European legislation and all countries must notify their results every year so that they can be stored on the AirBase database (http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/airbase-the-european-air-quality-database-7). However, the scientists that have taken part in this project hope that their work will provide a new perspective to improve an element as important to health as the air we breathe.
Indeed, the countries have at their disposal “tools that are not used regularly”, Ana Miranda affirms; she calls for them to be more widely used. “The use of methodologies for the full assessment of air quality as support for those politically responsible is essential, because it allows them to make decisions based on cost-profit analyses”, the CESAM researcher emphasises.