Issue date: 07 July 2003

ISSUE DATE: 07/07/03

Three cities from opposite sides of the globe are coming together to tackle a problem they all share ¡V air pollution. A team of researchers from the University of the West of England will work together with local councils, universities and non-governmental organisations in Athens and Bangkok to look at ways of improving air quality in each city. The project is funded under the Asia Urbs programme which is an EC funded initiative in decentralised co-operation aiming to enhance mutual understanding and awareness between Asia and Europe by supporting urban development projects implemented jointly by Asian and European local governments.

Researcher Clare Beattie, from the Faculty of Applied Sciences at UWE explains, ¡§We are working with others to review and assess the air quality in the three cities in order to identify the extent of air pollution in hot spot locations. This study will inform subsequent action that needs to be taken to improve air quality. Sources of pollution are surprisingly similar in each city. In Bristol and Athens the greatest proportion of pollution comes from traffic. In Bangkok traffic is also a problem, particularly diesel vehicles and two-stroke motorcycles, but other factors like domestic sources ¡V cooking on open fires, can mean that air quality is very poor.¡¨

¡§Our part in the project is to collate the initial assessments and then use the results to develop a set of best practice manuals and a training programme to enhance the skills and ability of staff in Bangkok. Other objectives of the project are to build durable links between local authorities and other stakeholders. Many of these stakeholders will be involved in training sessions.¡¨

The type of fuel used by traffic, domestic heating and industry has been shown to have a significant impact on air quality. ¡§In terms of traffic, cleaner fuels and better engine technology are having a very positive impact on air quality in cities in Europe but the increase in car usage is overwhelming the positive impacts of technological improvements¡¨ said Clare. ¡§In the UK, one of the successes of pollution control has been the implementation of the Clean Air Acts of the 1950s and 1960s to change fuel type of domestic and industrial sources. The problems all three cities now face are much more complex, with a resulting complexity of managing the sources¡¨.

The ultimate outcomes of the project will be to establish sustainable air quality management plans that can continue beyond the duration of the project. This will involve identifying, with stakeholders, options for the development of an air quality strategy, for better integration of urban development planning and air quality considerations and for making air quality information available and accessible to local populations.

The project will aim to raise public awareness of air quality issues through a well promoted website www.euthair.org.


Editor¡¦s notes

For more information visit the web site at www.euthair.org

The following three local authorities and six associated non-local government organisations are the project partners.

- Bristol City Council, UK
- The University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
- National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection, UK
- University of Athens, Greece
- The Municipality of Athens. Greece
- City of Athens - Centre of Risk Management Studies, Greece
- Athens Network of Collaborating Experts, Greece
- The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, Thailand
- The Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

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