How High is the Particulate Matter Concentration in the Maas-Rhine Euroregion?
For many inhabitants of the Maas-Rhine Euroregion, information on particulate matter pollution is important: The fine dust particles may result in diseases of the respiratory and the cardiovascular systems. Furthermore, in the planning process for infrastructure projects possible effects on the quality of air must be taken into account. A new information system generates particulate matter concentration maps that are updated hourly. In addition, the system provides information on air hygiene, such as European-wide sources of particulate matter, meteorological data, and clean-air plans.
The system was developed in a collaborative project between partners from Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands; from RWTH Aachen, the Teaching and Research Area Physical Geography and Climatology, headed by Professor Christoph Schneider, and the Chair of Economic Geography, headed by Professor Martina Fromhold-Eisebith, contributed to the project.
The research project received funding from the “Interreg IV-A” program for the Maas-Rhine Euroregion; 2.4 million Euros were contributed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the federal state of NRW, and the research partners themselves.
As Professor Schneider explains: “Our approach is based on valid, reliable measurement results and standardized calculation methods. Sources of particulate matter pollution are first and foremost vehicle traffic and heating facilities; in some regions, the main sources also include industry and agriculture. In the last years, the European limits for particulate matter pollution were often exceeded, particularly the maximum period of 35 days with a mean particulate matter concentration of over 50 µg/m³. Most of the time, this problem is addressed through the use of clean air plans and similar approaches on the local or regional level.”
He adds, “this project is unique in Europe for its combination of cross-border collaboration, the topicality of the subject matter, the various disciplines involved, the methods used, and the modeling approach. Thus it can be seen to be exemplary for other regions.”