Analysers, Applications, Pollution

which pollutants should we measure in outdoor air in Europe but are not being carried out?


Here are a few pollutants that have been of concern in the past and may require more attention in outdoor air quality monitoring across Europe:

  1. Ultrafine Particles (UFP): These are particles smaller than 0.1 micrometers in diameter and can potentially penetrate deeper into the respiratory system than larger particles. They are associated with adverse health effects and are not always consistently monitored.
  2. Heavy Metals: While some heavy metals like lead are monitored, there could be a need to expand monitoring efforts to include other heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, and nickel, which can have significant health and environmental impacts.
  3. Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs): These are organic compounds that are resistant to environmental degradation and can accumulate in the food chain. POPs include substances like dioxins, furans, and certain pesticides. Monitoring these pollutants can provide insights into their presence and potential health risks.
  4. Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDCs): These are chemicals that can interfere with the endocrine system and have been linked to various health issues. EDCs can include certain pesticides, plasticizers, and industrial chemicals.
  5. Particulate Composition: While total PM2.5 and PM10 are commonly measured, monitoring the composition of particulate matter (such as identifying specific sources or chemical components) can provide valuable information for targeted pollution control strategies.
  6. Non-Combustion Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Monitoring a broader range of VOCs beyond those typically associated with combustion sources can help identify additional sources of pollution and potential health risks.
  7. Air Toxics: This category includes a range of hazardous air pollutants that may not be routinely monitored. Examples include benzene, formaldehyde, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

It’s worth noting that advancements in technology and changes in scientific understanding may prompt shifts in air quality monitoring priorities. To get the most accurate and up-to-date information on outdoor air quality monitoring practices in Europe, I recommend reaching out to relevant environmental agencies, such as the European Environment Agency (EEA) and national or regional environmental authorities.

Which outdoor air parameters are required to be measured in Europe

The parameters that are generally required to be measured in outdoor air across Europe include:

  1. Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5): Monitoring of both PM10 (particulate matter with a diameter of 10 micrometers or smaller) and PM2.5 (particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or smaller) is essential due to their impact on respiratory health and their association with cardiovascular diseases.
  2. Ozone (O3): Ozone is a significant component of smog and can cause respiratory issues, so its levels are monitored to assess air quality and potential health risks.
  3. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2): Monitoring NO2 levels is crucial, especially in urban areas with high traffic, as it is a major air pollutant from vehicle emissions and other combustion sources.
  4. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2): SO2 monitoring helps evaluate the impact of industrial activities and other sources on air quality, and it is particularly important for regions with high sulfur emissions.
  5. Carbon Monoxide (CO): Monitoring CO levels is important to ensure that combustion processes are not leading to unsafe concentrations in the air, which can have adverse effects on human health.
  6. Lead (Pb): Lead monitoring is required to assess emissions from various sources and prevent exposure to this toxic metal.

These parameters are the core pollutants commonly required to be monitored across Europe. However, please note that specific monitoring requirements may vary from country to country, and different regions may also choose to monitor additional pollutants or indicators based on their unique air quality concerns. Additionally, monitoring practices and requirements can evolve over time, so it’s advisable to check with the relevant environmental agency or authority in your specific country or region for the most current and accurate information on outdoor air parameters required to be measured.

which outdoor air pollutants are most harmful to Humans?

Several outdoor air pollutants are harmful to human health, and their effects can vary depending on factors such as pollutant concentration, duration of exposure, and individual susceptibility. Some of the most harmful outdoor air pollutants for humans include:

  1. Particulate Matter (PM2.5 and PM10): Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and larger particulate matter (PM10) can penetrate deep into the respiratory system. They have been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, including aggravated asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks, and premature death.
  2. Ozone (O3): Ground-level ozone is a major component of smog. It can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and lung tissue inflammation. Ozone exposure is associated with reduced lung function and increased hospital admissions for respiratory issues.
  3. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2): NO2 is a respiratory irritant that can inflame the airways, worsen asthma symptoms, and decrease lung function. Long-term exposure to NO2 is associated with increased risk of respiratory infections and respiratory-related mortality.
  4. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2): SO2 can irritate the respiratory system and exacerbate existing respiratory conditions such as asthma. It can also contribute to the formation of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and acid rain.
  5. Carbon Monoxide (CO): CO can interfere with the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, leading to headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even death at high concentrations. It can be particularly dangerous in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.
  6. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): VOCs, including benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene, can contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone and smog. Some VOCs are also considered carcinogenic and can have long-term health effects.
  7. Lead (Pb): Although lead emissions have significantly decreased due to regulatory measures, lead exposure is still a concern, especially in areas with historical lead pollution. Lead can affect the nervous system, brain development in children, and cause cardiovascular and renal effects.
  8. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs): These compounds are formed during incomplete combustion of organic materials and are often associated with vehicle emissions and industrial processes. Some PAHs are carcinogenic and have been linked to lung cancer.
  9. Ammonia (NH3): While not as well-studied as other pollutants, ammonia can contribute to the formation of particulate matter and can potentially worsen respiratory conditions in sensitive individuals.

It’s important to note that the health effects of these pollutants can interact, and exposure to multiple pollutants simultaneously can increase health risks. Vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions, are more susceptible to the adverse effects of outdoor air pollutants. To protect public health, regulatory agencies and public health organizations often set air quality standards and guidelines for these pollutants.

should we measure Pfas in outdoor air, soil and water?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic chemicals that have been widely used in various industrial and consumer products for their water- and grease-resistant properties. Due to their persistence in the environment and potential health concerns, there is growing interest in monitoring PFAS in outdoor air, soil, and water. Here’s an overview of monitoring PFAS in these different environmental media:

  1. Outdoor Air:
    Monitoring PFAS in outdoor air can be important to assess the presence of these chemicals in the atmosphere and potential inhalation exposure. PFAS can be released into the air through various sources, including industrial emissions, atmospheric deposition, and the use of PFAS-containing products. While PFAS are less likely to be found in high concentrations in the air compared to other media like water or soil, monitoring can help identify sources and trends.
  2. Soil:
    Monitoring PFAS in soil is crucial because these substances can accumulate in soil over time and potentially impact ecosystems and human health. Soil contamination can occur from the disposal of PFAS-containing waste, use of PFAS-based products, and atmospheric deposition. Monitoring can help determine the extent of soil contamination, identify potential pathways of exposure, and guide remediation efforts if necessary.
  3. Water:
    Monitoring PFAS in water is particularly important due to their solubility and potential to contaminate drinking water sources. PFAS can leach into groundwater and surface water from landfills, wastewater treatment plants, industrial sites, and other sources. Monitoring is essential to ensure the safety of drinking water supplies and to assess the potential risks to aquatic ecosystems.

It’s worth noting that monitoring PFAS in these environmental media can be complex due to the large number of PFAS compounds, variations in their properties, and analytical challenges. Different PFAS compounds have different behaviors in different media, and detecting and quantifying them accurately requires specialized equipment and expertise.

Regulatory agencies and environmental organizations around the world are increasingly recognizing the importance of monitoring PFAS in outdoor air, soil, and water. The decision to conduct PFAS monitoring should be based on factors such as potential sources of contamination, local regulations, concerns for human health and the environment, and available resources for monitoring and analysis.

If you are considering conducting PFAS monitoring in your area, it’s advisable to consult with relevant environmental agencies, experts, and laboratories to ensure that appropriate sampling and analytical methods are used to obtain reliable and meaningful results.