Better measurability impact of air pollution on health
ECN is going to collaborate with research institutes, universities and municipalities (Amsterdam, Antwerp, Paris and Leicester) to study and combat complaints resulting from airborne particulate matter. New measuring methods, enable the detection of those characteristics of airborne fine particles that cause acute health complaints such as coughing and shortness of breath. The deteriorating health that results from air pollution reduces the European life expectancy with six months on average and costs the European Union about €50 billion every year. Air pollution is therefore still a serious problem. ECN and its partners have acquired a subsidy from the European Union to deploy the new measuring method at locations where there is much air pollution. The project is named JOAQUIN, which is the acronym of Joint Air Quality Initiative and led by the Flemish Environment Agency (VMM). In the Netherlands, the equipment will be installed at the measuring station of the Public Health Service of Amsterdam, which is located at the Overtoom.
Registration of harmful fine particles on regional and local scale will increase the understanding of how they disperse under different circumstances and deliver better data for policy makers. Moreover, in collaboration with the local authorities, the researchers will test measures aimed at combating air pollution, both with regard to modelling and in practise. Reducing traffic in certain city areas or organising a more efficient vehicle flow in busy streets are examples of such measures. Thanks to new equipment these policy measures can be compared much better than before. Local authorities can thus strike an optimal balance between a smooth traffic flow and the protection of public health. JOAQUIN is to start late 2011 and the first concrete policy recommendations are expected in 2013.