Air pollution science and policy – a Christmas conference

It seems that everyday we open our newspapers there’s another story on air pollution. In the last few months I’ve seen reports that air pollution is damaging my brain, my eyesight and evenmaking me go bald. It’s not just traffic that’s to blame. I read that the solvents in my home printer are adding to the problem and that there are air pollution problems near airports, on the underground and in train stations.

This December Burlington House, home of the Royal Society of Chemistry, will once again host an air pollution conference that will explore the science behind these issues. It’s not all bad news. Looking beyond the newspaper headlines there’s some positive stories too.

Cities are investigating and introducing new measures to meet legal limits for air pollution and protect their citizens. The demonstrators who are taking to the streets and demanding urgent action to tackle our climate crisis are also demanding clean air.

In 2019 the UK Government launched its new Air Quality Strategy, embracing the science that says that air pollution stems from many sources and that we need to tackle them all. That includes traffic (of course) but also less obviously wood burning and agriculture. Increasing numbers of countries and cities are making long-term commitments to phasing out petrol and diesel cars but that will not end air pollution from transport as more and more evidence is emerging about the particle pollution that comes from tyre, brake and road wear.

Building on the success of this long-running annual event, the 2019 conference will present an update on a range of relevant topics. The presenters will include internationally recognised experts, and there will also be a range of contributed talks and posters, providing a broad and up-to-date survey of the measurement, regulatory and scientific issues affecting air quality.

The conference will again be held in collaboration with Defra’s Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG), with sessions based on the group’s recently-published reports, including those on non-exhaust particle emissions and assessing the effectiveness of interventions intended to improve air quality. Presentations will also be made on topics that AQEG are currently investigating, including developments in vehicle exhaust emissions and non-methane volatile organic compounds. There will also be a session devoted to recent advances in airborne particle measurements, linked to the European AEROMET project.

The conference takes place on 10th and 11th December and spaces are still available see: to book your place.

Gary Fuller

Gary Fuller is an air pollution scientist at King’s College London. His book, The Invisible Killer is published by Melville House and explores the past, present and future of air pollution.

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