WMO Report Highlights Potential of Low-Cost Sensor Systems to Combat Air Pollution

Devdiscourse News Desk | Updated: 14-06-2024 14:23 IST | Created: 14-06-2024 14:23 IST
WMO Report Highlights Potential of Low-Cost Sensor Systems to Combat Air Pollution
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A new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) underscores the potential of low-cost sensor systems (LCS) in assessing air pollution levels, identifying sources, and supporting strategies to improve air quality. This development comes amid growing concerns about the health and environmental impacts of air pollution.

The report, titled "Integrating Low-Cost Sensor Systems and Networks to Enhance Air Quality Applications," highlights the importance of LCS in filling gaps in global and local air quality monitoring networks. These systems can provide critical information for policy-relevant air quality strategies.

In recent years, LCS deployments have increased significantly, especially in low- and middle-income countries where traditional, more expensive monitors are scarce. In high-income countries, LCS supplement existing reference-grade monitors, offering localized, near real-time air quality information, such as monitoring fire and smoke or vehicle emissions on busy roads.

“Air quality forecasting using low-cost sensors is a growing field with significant potential to support widespread monitoring and early warning systems, particularly in areas lacking traditional monitors,” said Sara Basart, WMO Scientific Officer and one of the report's authors. “These sensors are vital for effective decision-making to manage air quality impacts, especially concerning human health. They can make a real difference at the community level.”

The report, produced by WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch network in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry project (IGAC), and international experts, was released to coincide with the WMO Executive Council meeting, which focuses on transforming science and practical services for society.

“Life begins and is sustained with breath, but too many people around the world suffer health problems and death due to breathing dirty air,” said Richard Munang, Head of Global Environment Monitoring Systems and Early Warning for Environment Unit at UNEP. “Data-driven policy action against air pollution is critical for improving global air quality. The more tools we have to support this, the greater our chances of creating healthy environments for all life on earth.”

Carl Malings, the lead coordinating author of the report, emphasized the collaborative nature of the project. “We had contributions from over 30 experts from various countries, offering a broad spectrum of opinions and experiences. This collaboration allowed us to synthesize best practices for air quality applications from diverse global experiences.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution contributes to an estimated 7 million deaths annually. Evidence increasingly links ambient and household air pollution to numerous health issues, including non-communicable diseases such as respiratory, cardiovascular, and pulmonary diseases, cancer, low birth weight, diabetes, cognitive impairment, and mental health impacts.

As the world grapples with the profound health and environmental challenges posed by air pollution, the WMO's report signals a significant step toward harnessing innovative technologies to monitor and improve air quality worldwide.

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