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Pilot testing our air quality monitor – where is the pollution coming from?

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We are pilot testing our air quality monitors – and analyzing local PM-levels.

We are developing an air quality monitor that measures particle pollution (PM2.5 and PM10). The monitors are now in pilot test – and we have started to analyze the first results.

Three sites – same pattern

Below are results from three different pilot sites. They are all in the Oslo region, but 50km from each other and in various distances from major roads. We had expected local variations due to road traffic and wood burning stoves in the neighbourhood, but the results follow a similar pattern.

This led us to look for other correlations – and we did indeed find one.

airmine aq monitors - data from Oslo area
PM-levels from our pilot monitors at three locations in the greater Oslo area.

Wind from south gives particle pollution in the north

When we compare PM counts with wind direction and wind gust strength, we see a pattern. Wind from south gives higher particle levels (angle 100 in the gust angle graph below). It looks like the high level we record in Oslo is imported pollution from further south on the continent.

AQ Drøbak vs Wind gust
PM10 count versus wind gust angle (direction) and gust strength. Measured at our pilot site in Drøbak, Norway. Data from our Air quality monitor and a local weather station.

Winds from south and south-east are likely to transport pollution from Eastern Europe to Scandinavia. Europe’s most polluted air can be found in a belt from Poland down to the Balkans, see the map below.

YLL EEA 2018
Years of Life Lost to PM2.5 exposure in Europan countries in 2018. Source: Numbers from Air Quality in Europe – 2020 report. Map tool by mapchart.net.

We have seen this before

Northwestern Europe is an area with mostly good air quality. However, we do see spikes in air pollution also in this region. One source is local pollution, such as dry weather and road dust being whirled up. In Oslo, PM-levels actually peaked right after the first Covid-19 lockdown had been imposed, see our story Oslo – less cars but bad air.

The other typical source is further away. Dust is being transported by winds from Eastern Europe or from even further away. A quite massive transport took place in October this year, making PM-levels soar and obscuring the sky in parts of Scandinavia, see our story Smoke from west? No, dust from east.

Airmine aq monitor
Airmine’s air quality monitor in pilot testing. NB! Pilot casing, the monitor will have a slightly sleeker look when ready. Photo: Airmine.

The pilot testing continues

We will continue pilot testing of our air quality monitor – and keep you posted on the development and findings.

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