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Air quality, past, present and future

Scientific meeting

Location

The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG

Overview

Science+ meeting organised by Professor David Fowler CBE FRS, Professor John Pyle FRS, Professor Mark Sutton and Professor Martin Williams.

Beijing Smog © Wenjie Dong

This meeting will bring together a range of interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners working in fields related to air pollution, including human health, environmental policy and atmospheric composition in developing nations.

The science presented will first cover the chronology of atmospheric composition in the UK and Europe over the last century. This will be followed by two similar chronologies of the effects of the air pollutants on human health and on ecosystems. The papers presented at this meeting will identify scientific and policy issues central to these chronologies, their potential solutions and their costs.

Air quality is currently responsible for 7 million premature deaths annually, extensive crop loss and biodiversity declines in Europe, North America and Asia. It contributes to climate change and is highly policy relevant.

In the UK, acid rain, premature mortality, ozone and eutrophication have all been issues caused by air pollution. Some of these issues have been solved, while others remain politically intractable. Current and future issues will not be resolved without substantial reductions in emissions of the pollutant precursors, for which there is limited political support.

Recorded audio of the presentations will be available on this page after the meeting has taken place. Meeting papers will be published in a future issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.

Call for posters

There will be a poster session and drinks reception held at 16:55 on Monday 11 November 2019. If you would like to apply to present a poster please submit your proposed title, abstract (not more than 200 words and must be in third person), author list, name of the proposed presenter and institution to the Scientific Programmes team with the subject heading "Air Quality: poster abstract" no later than Monday 30 September. Please note that places are limited and are selected at the scientific organisers' discretion. Poster/talk abstracts will only be considered if the presenter is registered to attend the meeting.

Whilst the posters are free to view for all registered participants, the corresponding optional drinks reception is ticketed. Drinks reception tickets can be purchased in advance during registration.

Attending this event

This meeting is intended for researchers in relevant fields.

  • Free to attend
  • Limited places, advance registration is essential
  • An optional lunch can be purchased during registration

Enquiries: contact the Scientific Programmes team

Event organisers

Select an organiser for more information

Schedule of talks

11 November

09:00-12:30

Session 1: The Past 1900 - 2010

5 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chairs

Professor John Pyle CBE FRS, University of Cambridge, UK

09:05-09:40 A chronology of global air pollution

Professor David Fowler CBE FRS, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (Edinburgh Research Station), UK

Abstract

Many human activities result in emissions of contaminants to the atmosphere, releasing a range of gases and particulate matter. These pollutants were recognised as a problem for human health and ecosystems long before their chemical identity was known and prior to measurements of their ambient concentrations. In fact widespread direct measurements to show the change in atmospheric composition for the reactive pollutants are limited to the last 100 years or so.

The early evidence that air pollutants were harmful was sufficient to lead to regulations to limit emissions, before measurements and thresholds for effects were established. The presentation explores the early evidence of air pollution and some of the steps taken to control it followed by a chronology developed from models and measurements of the main pollutant emissions of sulphur, volatile organic and nitrogen compounds and the products of their chemical interactions in the atmosphere.

Recent global chemistry-transport model intercomparisons provide a description of the rapid increase in sulphur and nitrogen pollutants through the early 20th century and the gradual decline in sulphur, VOC and to a lesser extent oxidized nitrogen emissions between 1980 and 2010. Measurement networks at the surface and more recently satellite remote sensing reveal the spatial and temporal detail of the changes in chemical composition over the last few decades. The presentation describes the time course of anthropogenic emissions to the atmosphere and their effects on global and regional air quality.

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09:40-10:15 Air pollution and human health: research challenges and future directions

Professor Michelle Bell, Yale University, UK

Abstract

A wealth of research has shown that exposure to ambient air pollution is associated with increased risk of adverse human health outcomes such as premature mortality, hospital admissions, birth outcomes, and asthma, among others. The Global Burden of Disease project estimates that air pollution is among the top ten causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. These associations have been demonstrated through different study designs and in different populations and regions. Still many critical research questions remain. This presentation will review key findings and research needs in the field of air pollution and human health. These include the analysis of complex mixtures and the impact of climate change on air pollution and subsequently on human health. The talk will focus on future directions for such work and paths forward to address air quality and climate change in order to improve public health.

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10:15-10:50 Effects of air pollution on managed and natural terrestrial habitats over the last 100 years

Dr Carly Stevens, Lancaster Environment Centre, UK

Abstract

Over the last 100 years the abundance of different air pollutants, their geographic distributions and impacts on managed and natural habitats, have undergone large changes. Some pollutants, including oxidized and reduced nitrogen compounds have steadily increased, while others have declined. The concentrations and effects of sulphur compounds peaked and then declined over this time period allowing some ecosystems to recover. The potential for air quality to have an impact on the natural environment was recognised long before the twentieth century. During the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries, impacts including changes in lichen distribution, moth pigmentation, bird feathers and black snow were noted. During the second half of the twentieth century, studies on the effects of air pollution became broader and much more systematic, notably due to acid deposition, tropospheric ozone and nitrogen deposition and we now know a great deal about the damage that air pollutants can cause to sensitive habitats. This presentation reviews some of the most important impacts that air pollution has had on terrestrial habitats the developed world, including the lichen deserts, forest dieback on both continents, the loss of heathland habitats in the Netherlands, and reductions in vegetation species richness. Although our knowledge base regarding the impacts of air pollution on ecosystems has increased considerably since the early twentieth century, there remain many gaps. This is especially the case in less developed regions of the world, which are experiencing increasing air pollution problems coincident with economic development.

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10:50-11:20 Coffee

11:25-11:50 Effects of ozone on food security and natural ecosystems

Professor Lisa Emberson, University of York, UK

Abstract

The damage and injury that ground level ozone causes vegetation has become increasingly evident over the past half century with a large body of observational and experimental evidence demonstrating a variety of effects at ambient concentrations that include: visible injury, changes to plant physiology, alterations in the developmental rate of plant growth, reductions in yield, productivity and forage quality, shifts in species composition and reductions in carbon sequestration for a variety of crop, forest and semi-natural vegetation species and ecosystems.  This paper explores the use of experimental data to develop dose-response relationships for use in risk assessment studies; these studies have typically identified the US mid-West, much of Europe, the Indo Gangetic plain in South Asia and the Eastern coastal region of China as global regions where ozone is currently likely to threaten food supply. Experimental data can also be used to identify thresholds for effects to support establishment of air quality guidelines for use in policy development of emission reductions for mitigation efforts. In this respect, understanding emission trends is crucial as ozone concentrations tend to follow patterns of industrialisation with key precursor pollutants being NOx and NMVOCs. However, methane (CH4), which is less tightly linked to industrialisation,  is increasingly being recognised as an important determinant of global background levels of O3 pollution with implications on the appropriate geographical scale at which effective policy responses might be required. Finally, the paper also explores adaptation options to enhance ozone tolerance. Most work has focused on arable crops through identification of  crop cultivars resistant to ozone or management practices that will reduce ozone exposure and uptake. Such adaptation options should ideally also consider other stresses (heat stress, water stress, soil fertility stress) that often co-occur with pollution episodes to ensure responses are appropriate. This requires an improved understanding of the mechanisms by which ozone impacts on plants (i.e. physiological processes that trigger the cascade of plant growth, development, productivity and ecosystem function responses). Such understanding is also critical for the new generation of Earth System Models that hope to incorporate pollution impacts and feedbacks on terrestrial systems.

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11:55-12:30 The role of international policy instruments in improving European Air Quality

Ms Anna Engleryd, Chair of UNECE Air Convention, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Sweden

Abstract

The acid rain issue was first identified as a problem in the early 1970s and was during the following decades one of the most discussed environmental problems in Europe and North America. Although it was initially postulated that transboundary transport was an important cause, there was initial scientific scepticism on the transboundary question, and there were certainly no coordinated international attempts to solve the problem. Eventually the scientific findings provided the foundation for a determined policy response resulting in a treaty under the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (the Air Convention) agreed in 1979. The Convention has successively been extended with eight protocols requiring monitoring and modelling and subsequently reductions in emissions to combat acid rain and in later versions, which were based on effects-based strategies, to reduce impacts of ozone, NOx, VOCs, ammonia, particulate matter as well several heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants. Alongside the activity in the UNECE which initially focussed on damage to ecosystems, the European Union produced air quality Directives which dealt with the effects on human health, primarily in urban areas. The first Directive appeared in 1980 and dealt with ‘smoke’ and sulphur dioxide. Since then there has followed a series of ambient air legislation and Directives dealing with industrial emissions and emissions from road vehicles, as well as national emissions where the obligations mirror those in the Air Convention and extend them to longer timeframes. These actions in the EU and under the Air Convention have led to substantial reductions in emissions of many pollutants, which have resulted in positive effects on ecosystems and human health and in a virtual solution of the acid rain problem. However, despite a significantly improved situation over the last 30 years, problems still remain, especially concerning the health effects from particulate matter and the wider ecosystem issues around excess nutrient nitrogen. There is a continuing need for concerted action as well as increased cooperation in a global context to clean up the air.

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13:30-16:55

Session 2: Current air pollution issues

6 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chairs

Professor Louise Heathwaite CBE, Lancaster University, UK

13:30-14:05 Airborne particulate matter

Professor Roy M Harrison OBE FRS, University of Birmingham, UK

Abstract

Airborne particulate matter (PM) is a pollutant of concern not only because of its adverse effects on human health but because of its ability to reduce visibility and soil buildings and materials. It can be regarded as a suite of pollutants since PM covers a very wide range of particle sizes and also has a diverse chemical composition. Historically, much of the PM arose from coal burning and was measured as black smoke. However, in the second half of the 20th century there was a reduction in black smoke emissions from coal burning and PM steadily became dominated by carbonaceous particles from road traffic exhaust and the secondary pollutants, ammonium salts and secondary organic carbon. This is exemplified by the composition of fine particles (referred to as PM2.5) as measured in London, Delhi and Beijing.  Steadily, as control strategies have addressed the more tractable sources of emissions, so sources previously regarded as unconventional have emerged and been seen to make a significant contribution to airborne PM concentrations. Amongst these are non-exhaust particles from road traffic, cooking aerosol and wood smoke. The particle size distribution of airborne PM is hugely diverse, ranging from newly formed particles of a few nanometres diameter through to particles of tens of micrometres diameter. There has been a great deal of interest in ultrafine (nano) particles because of suspicions of enhanced toxicity, and as traffic emissions decrease as a source, so regional nucleation processes have become much bigger contributors to particle number, but not mass.

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14:05-14:40 Air pollutant removal by vegetation: potential and limitations

Dr Eiko Nemitz, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK

Abstract

Because of its high leaf area index and microphysical properties dry deposition to vegetation is more efficient than dry deposition to non-vegetated surfaces such as bare soil, sealed urban spaces, buildings and water. As governments around the world struggle to adhere to air quality limit levels for particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), there is an acute interest in the potential of using green infrastructure to mediate air pollution levels. This presentation investigates the effectiveness of intervention across a range of scales, from the effect of national vegetation cover to town planning to microscale intervention. Using an atmospheric chemistry and transport model with a range of landcover scenarios, the total UK vegetation is estimated to lower average pollutant concentrations significantly, by 10% for PM2.5, 6% for PM10, 30% for SO2, 24% for NH3 and 13% for O3. This reflects the accumulated effect of vegetation-enhanced deposition during pollutant transport from all UK and non-UK sources to a given receptor site. However, the national vegetation cover only has a negligible net impact on NO2: although vegetation captures NO2, vegetated soils also emit more NO. For city-scale intervention the effect is much reduced for all pollutants, and significant conversion to tree vegetation is required to see appreciable effects even for PM. By contrast, green infrastructure micro-interventions have a negligible effect on local air pollution levels through deposition, but can affect local dispersion leading to increases or reductions in concentrations very close to sources of pollution. An increase in urban vegetation results in multiple benefits, but where pollution control is the sole aim, micro-interventions tend to compare economically poorly with interventions aimed at reducing emissions, especially when population-level exposure is considered.

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14:40-15:15 Using epidemiology to estimate the impact and burden of exposure to air pollutants

Alison Gowers, Public Health England, UK

Abstract

Much of the early epidemiological evidence on the health effects of air pollution related to changes in routine medical statistics (mortality and hospital admissions) in response to day-to-day variations in concentrations of air pollutants. Later, cohort studies reported larger increases in mortality risk associated with long-term average concentrations of pollutants, particularly fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Experimental evidence also suggests that associations reported in epidemiological studies are likely to be causal. Therefore, methods for health impact assessment were developed to allow policy makers to predict the benefits that could be expected from implementation of interventions to reduce emissions of pollutants. A need to communicate the size of the effect of air pollution on public health was also identified. Estimates of annual mortality burdens attributable to current levels of pollution were developed to meet this need. Burden estimates represent the total health effect on a population, but do not provide information about how the burden is distributed across the population. They are based on a number of underlying assumptions and approximations and require decisions to be made about input parameters and extrapolations. These have implications for the interpretation of the estimates produced. The presentation will use examples to illustrate these points, drawing particularly on work by the UK government’s independent advisory Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP). It will also touch upon the additional complexities introduced by consideration of pollutant mixtures or by incorporation of morbidity into assessments.

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15:15-15:45 Tea

15:45-16:20 Toxicology of airborne particles

Professor Frank Kelly FMedSci, King's College London, UK

Abstract

Particulate matter (PM) is a complex, heterogeneous mixture that changes in time and space. It encompasses many different chemical components and physical characteristics, many of which have been cited as potential contributors to toxicity. Each component has multiple sources, and each source generates multiple components. Identifying and quantifying the influences of specific components or source-related mixtures on measures of health-related impacts, especially when particles interact with other co-pollutants, therefore represents one of the most challenging areas of environmental health research. Current knowledge does not allow precise quantification or definitive ranking of the health effects of PM emissions from different sources or of individual PM components and indeed, associations may be the result of multiple components acting on different physiological mechanisms. Some results do suggest a degree of differential toxicity, namely more consistent associations with traffic-related PM emissions, fine and ultrafine particles, specific metals and elemental carbon and a range of serious health effects, including increased morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular and respiratory conditions. Exposure to combustion-related PM, at concentrations experienced by populations throughout the world, contributes to pulmonary and cardiac disease through multiple mechanistic pathways that are complex and interdependent. Current evidence supports an interactive chain of events linking PM-induced pulmonary and systemic oxidative stress, inflammatory events, and translocation of particle constituents with an associated risk of vascular dysfunction, atherosclerosis, altered cardiac autonomic function, and ischemic cardiovascular and obstructive pulmonary diseases. Because oxidative stress is believed to play such an instrumental role in these pathways, the capacity of particulate pollution to cause damaging oxidative reactions (the oxidative potential) has been used as an effective exposure metric, identifying toxic components and sources within diverse ambient PM mixes that vast populations are subjected to from traffic emissions on busy roads in urban areas to biomass smoke that fills homes in rural areas of the developing world.

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16:20-16:55 Strategic epidemiological approaches to catalyze air quality actions on ambient and household air pollution in India

Professor Kalpana Balakrishnan, Sri Ramachandra Universitty, Chennai (SRU), India

Abstract

Air pollution ranks among the leading risk factors contributing to the disease burden in India. In the most recent assessment of state-level disease burden in India, approximately 0.67 million premature deaths and 21.3 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) were attributable to ambient air pollution (AAP) and 0.48 million premature deaths and nearly 15.8 million DALYs to household air pollution (HAP) resulting from use of solid cooking fuels, in the form of fine particulate matter ≤ 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM 2.5). This places air pollution near or at the top of the list of all known risk factors for ill health in the country, above high blood pressure, tobacco smoking, child and maternal malnutrition. The disease burden from air pollution, borne disproportionately by poor populations who rely on solid fuels for cooking, poses an enormous challenge for air quality management within public health programs in India. The evidence for required inter-sectoral solutions is strong and is reflected in on-going regulatory actions. There is a however a need to create seamless breathing spaces that straddles across all exposure micro-environments to both  diminish the health burden and  the associated disparities among population sub-groups. Strategic epidemiological approaches that can advantage of on-going programmatic initiatives (especially in household energy sector) can advance the cause for air quality actions in India, while filling critical research gaps in the national and global pool of evidence.  The talk will cover on-going and planned initiatives that can greatly benefit from global collaboration.

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16:55-18:00 Poster Session

12 November

09:00-12:30

Session 3: Current air pollution issues

6 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chairs

Alison Gowers, Public Health England, UK

09:00-09:40 Evidence and air quality policy – mitigation and the challenges of success

Professor Paul Monks, University of Leicester, UK

Abstract

Air quality is a persistent menace. Over the last 50 or so years, there has been a marked improvement in Global Air Pollution, but it remains a significant challenge to human health and ecosystems. In this talk I will explore with examples, how science and the evidence derived from it can influence policy, taking examples from both a contemporary and historical context. Questions that will be explored will be what is success in terms of a policy intervention and how do we know when we have been successful? The science of the effectiveness of mitigation, which is in some senses much less well developed that science that drives attribution needs to be considered. Examples, will be given across the globe of science into Air Quality Policy e.g. CAREBeijing to German Low Emission Zones.  The challenge of multidisciplinary mitigation science will be detailed. Further, the challenge of dealing with multiple pollutants in multiple policy contexts (e.g. Air Quality and Climate) will be explored.

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09:40-10:15 Alkaline air: ecological impacts of nitrogen air pollution in an ammonia-rich world

Professor Mark Sutton, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (Edinburgh Research Station), UK

Abstract

Risks of nitrogen air pollution impacts on ecosystems are currently assessed using a combination of critical loads for total nitrogen deposition and critical levels for air concentrations of ammonia and nitrogen dioxide.  At present, critical loads methodologies focus on long-term (>decadal) exposure and do not account for potential differences in nitrogen form, such as wet deposition or dry deposition, oxidized or reduced nitrogen, while critical levels are defined for shorter exposure periods (up to annual).These limitations point to the need for further investigation of the underpinning processes by which forms of nitrogen air pollution impact vegetation. This is especially needed, as successes in pollution mitigation for oxidized nitrogen are leading to ammonia contributing an increasing share of the air pollution burden, and the consequent ecological effects. This paper applies the results of national- and local-scale field surveys together with the results of long-term ecosystem addition with gaseous ammonia or wet deposited nitrate or ammonium to explore the mechanisms by which additional nitrogen impacts ecosystems. Data on the distribution of epiphytic lichens show a close relationship between atmospheric ammonia concentrations, a substantial part of which appears to be due to the alkaline effect of ammonia in increasing bark pH, in addition to a direct effect of nitrogen as a nutrient. Data from long-term exposure of peatland to different nitrogen forms, show much larger impacts related to exposure to ammonia than to wet deposited ammonium. Measurements of surface pH suggest that this additional effect may be related to the alkalinity of ammonia, in addition to the nitrogen effect. The identification of both a ‘nutrient nitrogen effect’ and an ‘alkalinity effect’ has implications for the timescales of pollution impact and recovery. The former may take many years to have impacts, operating via increased soil nutrient pools, as illustrated by the ecosystem experiments. Conversely, impacts of alkaline air may occur more quickly over days to months. Field evidence suggests that, following a reduction in ammonia concentrations, substantial recovery can also occur quickly (1-5 years), much faster than expected for recovery from total nitrogen deposition. The paper discusses the implications for future air pollution control policies.

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10:15-10:50 The role of reactive nitrogen in environmental issues in China

Professor Liu Xuejun, China Agricultural University, China

Abstract

Reactive nitrogen (Nr) has been a cause of serious environmental pollution in China since the 1980s. Historically, China used too little Nr in its agriculture to feed its population. However, with the rapid increase in N fertilizer use for food production and fossil fuel consumption for energy supply over the last four decades, more and more reactive N species (e.g. NH3, NOx and nitrate N) have been emitted in China, with consequent air and water pollution. This review paper discusses the issues associated with this in a holistic way. The sources, impacts and mitigation potentials of Nr in soil, air and water are analyzed systematically. NH3 and N2O emissions come mainly from agricultural sectors (including both crop and animal production systems) while NOx emissions come mainly from vehicles, industry and power plants. Due to the overuse of N fertilizers and substantial nitrate leaching from farmland, significant soil acidification has occurred in the most productive Chinese croplands, and nitrate and ammonium N from cropland and/or livestock production systems have contributed to the serious degradation of surface and ground water quality. At the same time, NH3 and NOx have made major contributions to secondary aerosol (PM2.5) pollution, which impact human health. The review assesses the need and potential to reduce Nr emissions through meta analyses in the context of human health and climate change. It makes some key recommendations for improving future N management for achieving "win-win" outcomes for Chinese agricultural production and food supply, and human and environmental health.

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10:50-11:20 Coffee

11:20-11:55 Sources, composition and effects of fine particulate matter in Chinese megacities

Professor Mei Zheng, Peking University, China

Abstract

The concentration and composition of fine particulate matter (PM) play a direct role on its health impacts. This study presents the seasonal and spatial variation of concentration and composition of fine PM in major cities in China. The concentration has a clear trend, which is higher in the northern China, and higher in the winter time. To formulate strategy for fine PM control, a clear understanding of its major sources is very critical. Thus, source apportionment studies have been widely carried out in various cities in China in recent years. Multiple methods have been applied to understand sources of PM including emission inventory, and receptor modeling with ambient measurement. In general, it shows that more anthropogenic source in the northern China especially coal combustion, and more biogenic source in the southern China. Ambient fine PM has been shown to exhibit health effects including pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the resulting oxidative stress could play a role in pulmonary inflammation which leads to subsequent various health effects. The health impacts of fine PM in China have been examined with different health indicators by different research groups. It also has clear spatial and seasonal variation. The health impacts of fine PM and its relationship with PM composition and sources, especially coal combustion, will be presented.

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11:55-12:30 Domestic emissions of volatile organic compounds as contributors to air pollution

Professor Alastair Lewis, National Centre for Atmospheric Science and University of York, UK

Abstract

Volatile organic compounds are a broad class of air pollutants which act as precursors to the formation of tropospheric ozone and secondary organic aerosols (SOA), the latter forming a substantial component of the mass of urban PM2.5. Emissions of VOCs have changed very substantially over the past three decades. In the UK, emissions are estimated to have peaked around 1990 (~2,837 ktonnes) and have subsequently reduced to ~807 ktonnes in 2017, a fall of 72%, mostly driven by reductions in emissions from road transport (in particular from petrol car exhaust) and fugitive/evaporative emissions from volatile fuels. Atmospheric concentrations of many simple hydrocarbons have also been observed to fall by similar amounts. The non-linear nature of the production of ozone demands further reductions in VOCs emissions at a European scale, and targets are set for 2020 and 2030 within the framework of the National Emissions Ceiling Directive. Future reductions in emissions are likely to require increased focus on those VOCs arising from solvent usage, and in particular the widespread domestic release of VOCs contained in a multitude of commonplace household and decorative products. Solvent usage has grown to represent the largest single contributing source, representing more than 40% of UK national emissions. Inventory estimates and long-term monitoring is combined with new survey observations made in UK home environments, and from consumer products directly, to help evaluate both the absolute quantity of emissions and whether the speciation of VOCs has changed, with impacts on air quality monitoring strategies and secondary atmospheric chemistry.

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12:30-12:30 Lunch

13:30-17:00

Session 4: The future

4 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chairs

Dr Sarah Moller, National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of York, UK

13:30-14:05 Quantifying interactions between air quality and climate change during the 21st century

Dr Alex Archibald, University of Cambridge and National Centre for Atmospheric Science, UK

Abstract

Ozone (O3) is a harmful secondary air pollutant and potent greenhouse gas. The abundance of O3 in the troposphere has increased significantly throughout the industrial era and at its current levels O3 pollution results in 100,000s of premature mortalities and $billions of economic costs each year. Because of its complex secondary photochemical formation, tackling O3 has been a challenge for policy makers. One important issue concerning the future evolution of O3 is how it will be affected by changes in climate and the penalty that climate change puts on O3 mitigation efforts (i.e. as temperatures increase O3 increases). In this study, we show scenarios for the trajectory of O3 into the 21st century calculated using the UK Earth System Model (UKESM1). UKESM1 allows the full interactions between atmospheric chemistry and climate to be simulated.  We use the model to analyse the changing relationship between O3 and climate under four different shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs) describing future changes in O3 precursor emissions, greenhouse gases, demographics and socioeconomic development. We show that by the end of the 21st century population weighted exposure to O3 is likely to decrease in three out of the four scenarios, but with large regional changes; heavily dependent on assumptions around the future population, climate and emissions trajectories. The model results suggest that the most severely polluted regions, as we move into the future, are South Asia and the Middle East. To understand the driving factors behind the changes in tropospheric O3 we make use of empirical relationships to deconvolve the contribution from O3 precursor emissions, climate and stratospheric O3 changes. This analysis allows us to highlight the role of the changing climate penalty in different regions over time.  Finally, we make use of observational data from two extreme heatwave periods, the summer of 1976 and the summer of 2003, to explore the ability of the model to simulate these events and contrast the climate penalty in in these different time periods.

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14:05-14:40 How will the effects of air quality on human health, ecosystems and food security change during the 21st century?

Professor Erika von Schneidemesser, IASS, Germany

Abstract

In the age of the Anthropocene, our human activities now rival global geophysical processes. This new epoch is indicative of the complexity of interactions and the breadth of factors that are influencing and will influence air quality and its subsequent effects on human health, ecosystems, and food security. Climate change will affect global temperatures, precipitation patterns, and the frequency of extreme weather events. Such changes also have feedbacks not only on natural systems but also in e.g., the built environment, such as greater electricity demand for air conditioning. Changes in meteorology and emissions are the main drivers of future air quality, with greater impacts projected for summer months, linked in large part to ozone pollution. The effect of these projected changes in air quality on human health, including associated economic costs, ecosystems, and food security, will be discussed.

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14:40-15:15 Interactions between urban and rural air pollution in Asia and their implications for air quality management

Dr Markus Amann, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria

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15:15-15:45 Tea

15:45-17:00 Panel Discussion

Air quality, past, present and future

11 - 12 November 2019

The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK
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