June 2, 2023
'Life-saving' real-time air quality data

‘Life-saving’ Real-time Air Quality Data

The most severe environmental hazard to human health is air pollution. According to a recent World Bank study, air pollution cost the world $8.1 trillion in 2019 or 6.1 percent of global GDP. 95 percent of air pollution-related fatalities occur in low- and middle-income nations. Pollution-related premature mortality and morbidity impose a considerable economic cost on various nations, amounting to 5 to 14% of GDP. The University of Queensland-led study discovered that providing real-time air quality values in underdeveloped nations can reduce pollution and lead to lower death rates. According to Dr. Andrea La Nauze of UQ’s School of Economics, the initiative, which is being carried out in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, was inspired by live air quality data given on Twitter.

According to a global research, air pollution causes 120 fatalities per 100,000 people each year, making it one of the most concerning concerns in modern cities (Green Car Congress, 2019). The World Health Organization noted that 97% of cities with more than 100,000 residents in low- and middle-income nations do not fulfill World Health Organization (WHO) air quality criteria. The poor air quality will increase possible health risks such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, asthma, and other conditions (citation). As a result, cities must construct an air quality monitoring system to verify that the air is not polluted. This may be accomplished by placing sensors to monitor dust particles and carbon dioxide levels. This can be accomplished by installing sensors to monitor dust particles, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide levels and then sharing this information with the public via smartphones, where the smartphone app allows people to monitor real-time data of the current air quality level in the area. As a result, the better quality of life can be achieved through these implementations.

Motor cars, industrial activity, domestic combustion appliances, and forest fires are all common sources of air pollution. Particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide are pollutants of great public health concern. Indoor and outdoor air pollution are major. According to WHO data, 99 percent of the world’s population breathes air that includes high levels of pollutants and exceeds WHO guideline limits, with low- and middle-income nations seeing the worst exposures. Globally, the climate and ecosystems of the planet are directly related to air quality. The usage of fossil fuels is a major source of air pollution and adds to greenhouse gas emissions. By decreasing the burden of disease linked to air pollution and assisting in the short- and long-term mitigation of climate change, policies to reduce air pollution offer a win-win strategy for both climate and health.

According to Dr. La Nauze, the US Embassy in Beijing began tweeting hourly air quality statistics from a new pollution sensor in 2008, which greatly heightened attention to air pollution in China. US embassies are now tweeting live air quality readings from 38 non-OECD nations across the world.  Researchers examined 36 of these nations and discovered that providing real-time data enhanced local public interest in air quality and resulted in lower levels of pollution. The researchers utilized satellite data to assess air pollution levels before and after the US embassy in a city began tweeting air quality estimates, and compared the findings to comparable non-OECD locations without embassy monitors. They discovered that exchanging real-time air quality information resulted in an annual reduction in fine particle concentration levels of 2-4 micrograms per cubic meter. Fine particulate matter is an air contaminant that has been linked to major health issues such as heart disease and decreased lung function.

Air pollution poses a serious hazard to health and the environment, from smoking in the house to haze hanging over cities. Fine particulate matter from ambient (outside) air pollution causes acute and chronic respiratory illnesses, heart disease, lung cancer, and strokes in both urban and rural regions. Additionally, while cooking over open flames or basic stoves powered by kerosene, biomass (wood, animal manure, and agricultural waste), or coal, almost 2.4 billion individuals are exposed to dangerously high levels of indoor air pollution. Every year, 7 million premature deaths are attributed to the impacts of home and ambient air pollution combined.

There are numerous and context-specific sources of air pollution. Residential energy for cooking and heating, cars, electricity generation, agriculture/waste incineration, and industry are the primary contributors to outdoor pollution. Policies and investments that promote sustainable land use, cleaner home energy and transportation, energy-efficient housing, power production, industry, and improved municipal waste management can all help to minimize the main causes of ambient air pollution.

According to the study, the average city’s decrease in air pollution is worth $171 million AUD in health benefits per year. According to Dr. Akshaya Jha of Carnegie Mellon University, 90 percent of the world population is exposed to harmful levels of air pollution, yet monitoring isn’t always accessible, particularly in poor nations.  According to Dr. Jha, poor air quality is a primary cause of early mortality worldwide, accounting for one out of every nine fatalities. Sharing trustworthy air quality data can draw attention to this issue and provide significant health and economic advantages that far surpass the expense of monitoring devices. Dr. La Nauze stated that the World Health Organization judged air quality monitoring to be ‘inadequate’ last year, particularly in less developed countries.

What is the purpose of an air quality monitoring station?

The air quality monitoring stations use high-tech laser particle sensors to quantify PM2.5 pollution in real time, which is one of the most dangerous air pollutants. They are extremely simple to set up, requiring simply a WIFI access point and a USB power supply. Once linked, air pollution levels are displayed on their maps in real time.

What does real-time air quality monitoring entail?

It is an image search result for what is global real-time air quality data. It makes use of low-cost and easily accessible devices such as a dust sensor, a carbon monoxide gas sensor, a carbon dioxide gas sensor, and a nitrogen dioxide gas sensor. Microcontrollers are used to control these sensors, and the microcontrollers also serve as transmitters, sending data to a cloud database.

By 2018, over 30% of nations have at least some types of monitoring; however, this includes monitoring that is sporadic, only covers a small portion of the country, or is not publicly available, according to Dr. La Nauze. Even in Australia, where state governments monitor air quality and give access to real-time data, a denser monitoring network would be beneficial. Policymakers, diplomats, and community organizations throughout the world should advocate for the quick implementation of trustworthy, real-time air quality monitoring and reporting systems.


  • https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2201092119
  • https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1
  • https://www.iotchallengekeysight.com/2019/entries/smart-land/211-0515-025039-real-time-air-quality-monitoring-system-based-on-iot
  • https://www.openicpsr.org/openicpsr/project/178921/version/V1/view
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