Annual Review of the Air Quality Sector 2022
The following article, compiled with the help of e-shape’s EO experts in the air quality sector, is the second in a series of articles which investigate the significant developments, challenges, and trends in the relevant e-shape sectors. Check the first article on the agricultural sector here.
Amongst many highlights in 2022, one of the most prominent has been the continued push for high-quality, high-resolution urban air quality geo-information which can better serve human health. Eleni Athanasopoulou (Showcase 2 Pilot 3) offered a great example of the continuous advances in air quality assessments, stating in her work that “Satellite-based observations are converted by ad-hoc methods into NO2 surface concentrations to support for the first time the national air quality assessment of Finland delivered to the European Environmental Agency”. She continues by pointing out that health risk due to exposure to air pollutant mixture (i.e., PM2.5, PM10, NO2, O3, SO2) is also being assessed for the city of Munich and other megacities around the globe through the exploitation of the World Settlement Footprint.
Sergio Cinnirella (Showcase 2 Pilot 1) underlined the Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) launch. MAIA is a NASA mission currently under development, devised in collaboration with epidemiologists and health organizations, designed to produce data used in health studies to examine the effects of various types of air pollution. He continued with a highlight the launch of the EIRENE PPP project. EIRENE PPP aims to prepare a consolidated European research infrastructure enabling the development of advanced technologies and complementary services as characterization of complex environmental exposures and their impact on the European population. Sergio concluded: “In 2022, there was a continuous development of EO toolkits and knowledge hubs for policy and decision-makers, executive managers, and the interested public to encourage use and awareness of relevant EO applications”.
A hot trend is the “emphasis on advanced visualisation services aiming at increasing user uptake”, noted the RECETOX team (Showcase 2 Pilot 2), who also commented that “developing tools for new substances” is a continuing trend. Sergio also underlined the increasing demand for tool development to analyse scenarios and conduct rapid public health mapping and spatial analysis.
Eleni remarked that one challenge is the lack of systematic exploitation of the provided service/products by the health sector and the public authorities. The RECETOX team noted that one of the biggest challenges in 2022 was “the registration of private sector data in GEOSS according to the GEOSS standards”. Moreover, according to Sergio “there is a need for more efforts in developing early warning systems and enhanced public health surveillance, which can strengthen health system preparedness and response efforts to emerging environmental health risks”.
According to the RECETOX team, to meet the sectorial challenges, “there should be higher uptake at the policy-making level and more efforts into education aimed at strengthening skills for work with EO products and data analysis”. Sergio added that “there is a need for better integration of EO data with exposome”; and went on to discuss the requirement for more open data, stating that there needs to be a, “data release following FAIR principles to develop thematic information can meet a substantial number of needs such as research, surveillance, assessments, and others”.