“What Are We Breathing?”: Russian Scientists Are Developing a System of Air Monitoring

In the frameworks of the world-level Ural Research and Education Centre, scientists of South Ural State University (SUSU, Chelyabinsk, Russia) are solving global ecology-related problems. In particular, they are working on development of a data analytic system called “Eco-monitor”, which allows determining the concentration of pollutants in the air online in any part of the city.

Air condition will be analyzed by a network of sensors

Nowadays, air pollution is one of the most urgent problems faced by the humanity. Specialists all around the world are working on its solution. According to the World Health Organisation data, 9 out of 10 people around the world are breathing with polluted air. Information about the level of air pollution is necessary in order to prevent an exceedance of maximum permitted concentration of pollutants. By knowing of what we are breathing, scientists will be able to find the ways to regulate the condition of the air.

Eco-monitor is an interdisciplinary project of the Institute of Natural Sciences and Mathematics of South Ural State University. The project group includes not only ecologists but also physicists, chemists, mathematicians and programmers. End product of the project will be a computer program which implements a mathematical model created on the basis of unique inventions of scientists with regards to the contemporary global experience. The program will not just collect information on the concentration of polluting agents in some certain point but also calculate its alteration in the nearest future.

The monitoring system will help regulating the volume of pollutants emitted by enterprises and city traffic

“As of today, there is no such a tool which would allow for an online evaluation of the impact that each source of pollutant emissions has on the ecological state of the urban aerial environment. For example, there is a state monitoring of air condition upon 24 pollutants carried out in Chelyabinsk. The sources of pollution are various industrial enterprises and motor transport. We need to know the concentration of each substance within certain territory and whether it is safe to stay there. We are working on development of the mathematical model and the software for the ecology monitoring system. What will a user see? Online information regarding the concentration of one or another polluting substance in a certain monitoring area will be displayed on the screen of a computer or any other device,” says the project leader, Associate Professor at the SUSU Department of Applied Mathematics and Programming, Dmitry Drozin.

The necessity for a regular monitoring of the air condition is also conditioned by the changes in legislative acts regulating the ecological situation in our country. For example, Chelyabinsk, as well as other Russian cities, has been included in an experimental programme which is implementing the principle of quotas for emissions allocated on the basis of summary calculations. If there are several industrial enterprises located in a certain part of the city. It is necessary to consider the impact that each of them have on air pollution, together with background concentrations of pollutants and the impact imposed by motor transport.

This, the eco-monitoring system will allow for not just obtaining a detailed “map” of air pollution at the territory of some city, but also become applicable when regulating the volume of pollutant emissions. In the nearest future, the scientists are planning to demonstrate the pilot prototype of the software.

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