Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science-Based Solutions (CCAC, UNEP Report)

I found the ‘Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science-based solutions’ report an especially informative read. It has an overview of the problem, and great summary of current and potential/proposed efforts to curb air pollution locally.

Download the full report here:

The following extract from the report’s Benefits highlights the significant impact of air pollution, and to me this suggests we really need radical reforms and innovations to ensure that everyone gets access to clean air and hence better health:

By implementing the top 25 clean air measures, 22 per cent of the region’s population, around 1 billion people, could enjoy air quality within the WHO Guideline by 2030, compared to less than 8 per cent in 2015.

This suggests we have to go much further to solve air pollution, and this is an ideal challenge for an XPRIZE; given that similar problems are experienced globally.

A useful report - thanks @TerryMulligan

WHO guideline for particulate matter (2.5 micrometres and less: PM2.5):
Annual mean PM2.5 concentration: 10 µg/m3

And in a 2005 WHO report:

10 µg/m3 annual mean
25 µg/m3 24-hour mean

20 µg/m3 annual mean
50 µg/m3 24-hour mean

For the purposes of an XPRIZE an opportunity arises to address a fundamental issue associated with the measurement of particulate matter (and the consequences for better epidemiological studies, and health, in the future)…

Particulate matter varies widely in its chemical composition - particles from different emission sources can have radically different chemicals in them. This means the actual health impact for a given exposure to a specific mass of particles will probably be different, depending on the chemical composition of the particles. Some chemicals might be biologically inert while others (e.g. diesel emissions from vehicles) contain toxic carcinogenic compounds!

So not only is there a need to measure particle size (e.g. PM2.5, PM10) there is a need to detect the specific chemicals in (and on) those particles. We need a technology to detect chemical compounds. To date no widely available, low cost, technology has been developed and deployed.

Currently, such chemical analysis is typically conducted in a relatively slow and expensive manner in laboratories - meaning that we have no idea what the actual chemical compositions are for most urban and rural areas. [Modelling alone has a limited accuracy.]

Monitoring of chemical composition across a majority of urban streets with high traffic flows (and ideally in rural areas too) has the potential to greatly enhance the effectiveness of epidemiological studies and to increase our understanding of the specific health impacts for each type of particulate matter.

A real-time monitoring system also provides the opportunity to implement real-time control systems and strategies - to respond to pollution incidents and mitigate their impact.

It is also possible to pro-actively prevent some pollution incidents by using sophisticated modelling and prediction systems (based on accurate data and patterns of behaviour).

The idea of a de-centralized composition detection solution is interesting, and one that just came up in an expert interview this morning. This seems like a definite gap in capability and knowledge, potentially the perfect place for an inducement prize!

Are you envisioning something like or more like a weather service? I honestly don’t know enough about current sensor tech to understand what is/isn’t possible, definitely a line of inquiry for future expert calls.

Agreed, detecting the chemical composition of particles would be worthy of an XPRIZE. An IoT network of such sensors would be good. This could be complemented with drones too. Amazing and surprising things have been done with remote sensing by satellite too - but I’m not sure whether this would be possible or not (let’s see what the competitors come up with :slight_smile:

Purple air just seems to measure concentration (no chemical analysis).