air quality

What are we talking about?

Despite improvements in the air quality in the last decades, air pollution still creates damage to nature and our health. The RIVM (Dutch National Health Institute) estimates that yearly a few thousand people premature die as a consequence of air pollution, on an average 12 months , in Rotterdam 1,5 year.

The air quality is determent by various pollutants in the air, like nitrogen dioxide sulphur dioxide, soot or fine dust. All these elements have a different effect on our health. All airborne particles under 10 micrometer (µm), or smaller then 0,01mm are defined as fine dust. These particles ‘Particulate Matter’ are categorised in three sizes. Smaller then 10µm is PM10, PM2,5 (diameter smaller then 2,5µm) and PM1 (ultra fine dust, even smaller then 1µm). The smaller the particle, the further it penetrates into the body, the more harm it can do to our health.

These particles are created for about 80% by human activities. The other 20% lies in natural sources like sans, salt in the air (specially at sea side). The focus of the project is the air pollution caused by traffic, the dust particles from brakes, tires, and the exhaust. Because these particles are firstly created by ourselves, and then breath by us all.

About standards and values

The PM10 concentration on high traffic locations is around 30µg / m3. This is below the Dutch and European standard of 40µg / m3, but above the standard recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) of 15µg / m3. In some cases, the concentration is only slightly above this advisory standard. You would say that there is no problem. Unfortunately, however, exposure to such concentrations turns out to be unhealthy nevertheless. The standard is at such a level, since legal limits and action thresholds are usually a compromise between feasibility and health.

The concentration of PM2.5 is even more important for our health, because the smaller particles cause even more damage. However, because there is not yet a simple method available to collect only dust particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers, the data is retained for the larger particles, PM10.  The amounts of dust used in the glaze can be seen as a translation of the amounts that people breath.