Fine dust measurement in cities: Why clean air is a science in itself
It is not just something in the air, people are directly affected: The particle matter (PM) pollution is an often-discussed topic before all else in larger cities and metropolitan areas - which is quite right to do. Airborne particles are harmful to human health even in low concentrations which makes precise measurements verifying compliance with the statutory limit values even more important.
Inhaled fine dust particles, as scientific studies show, notably in the range smaller than 2.5μm, may reach nearly all internal organs and more than that cause permanent irritation and stress to the cells due to long-term exposure. This can be compared to a permanent inflammation leading to perpetual damage.
A considerable number of medical studies research on determining the combination of particle size and number with chemical composition and its resulting diseases. As of today the investigations on causes and effects is only at the beginning, unfortunately. At present various studies prove that there are connections, but not exactly which and how they work.
Respiratory diseases are short-term effects most likely seen, but actually all internal organs are affected and also may result in cardio-vascular diseases.
Thus, all actions taken to reduce air pollutants serve the purpose of protecting the human health. The EU Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC with its amendment 2015/1480/EC is a perfect example for a European-wide governmental measure acting as basis to protect human health.
Concrete specifications for fine dust measurement
In order to ensure compliance with existing limit values everywhere, principles and operating procedures of air quality monitoring are specified. This is especially evident in metropolitan areas. Some areas to which the public has no access to or other demands do not apply are excluded from those specifications - this area is literally unregulated regarding particulate matter. Outdoor areas are much stricter regulated than indoor areas.
The maximum possible concentration to which the population is exposed act as basis for the measurements. Measurement stations for pollutants mainly originating from traffic are placed near busy roads in cities ensuring that requirements being met. Precise specifications determine the distance of traffic-oriented measurement stations: to the next curb, the next intersection, the next buildings, the given flow conditions, and the height of the sampling inlet opening. Calculations from collected data including meteorological factors such as wind speed and direction lead to a better understanding of the spatial extent of the load and other highly frequented roads.
In Germany, for instance, a measurement point nearby traffic must be set up within ten meters from the curb and at least 25 meters from a busy junction. Many things have to be taken into account when choosing a suitable location to measure, such as power supply, accessibility, interferences like telephone lines, visibility of the measuring station in the vicinity, safety to and from the public as well as the operating personnel. It is necessary to collect, as representative as you possibly can, the concentration data in residential areas. Another monitoring station shall be located on the peripheral area of the city.
17 active measuring stations in Berlin
The German capital Berlin, with a population of nearly 3.8 million, 17 active measuring stations are set up throughout the city. Berlin citizens have the possibility to get the information on the current air quality index live via the internet and being able to identify the fine dust hotspots. The so-called clean air plan constantly analyzes the measured values and the Berlin Senate constantly updates their measurement records always aiming to protect human health.
GRIMM fine dust measurement as a special field of the DURAG GROUP
We valuably contribute with our 'Mission: Emission' developing high-tech measurement instruments making air pollution monitoring precise and effective. It is of utmost importance that next to termless adherence of standardized operating procedures the instruments used for measurements meet high quality standards. 'Currently many cheap solutions are flooding the market and giving the impression that these devices can be used to measure correctly,' warns Volker Ziegler, Management Sales at GRIMM. GRIMM specialists develop instruments that are able to determine the fine and even ultrafine dust content extremely precise - from a portable version weighing only 2.1 kilograms to complete stationary systems.
A great example is the Berlin Air Quality Measuring Network (BLUME) which is fully equipped with our EDM180, the leading automated system for measuring particle concentration (PM10, PM2.5).