Detection of non-anthropogenic air pollution

Project description

The term aerosol commonly refers to the particulate/air mixture, as opposed to the particulate matter alone. They have impacts on climate and precipitation and adversely affect human health. The IARC and WHO designate airborne particulates from diesel combustion a Group 1 carcinogen. Particulates are the deadliest form of air pollution due to their ability to penetrate deep into the lungs and blood streams unfiltered, causing permanent DNA mutations, heart attacks, and premature death. In 2013, a study involving 312.944 people in nine European countries revealed that there was no safe level of particulates and that for every increase of 10 μg/m3 in PM10, the lung-cancer rate rose 22%. The smaller PM2.5 were particularly deadly, with a 36% increase in lung cancer per 10 μg/m3 as it can penetrate deeper into the lungs (source Wikipedia).


Sources of particulate matter can be anthropogenic or natural:

-The particulate-air anthropogenic pollutants mainly originate from the combustion of carbonaceous fuels. A unique primary tracer for combustion emissions is black carbon (hereafter: BC) since there exists no non-combustion sources of BC. It is inert and can be transported over great distances (Hansen et al., 1989; Bodhaine, 1995; Sciare et al., 2009). BC affects the optical properties of the atmosphere when suspended, and is recognized as the second most important anthropogenic forcing agent for climate change after CO2 (Ramanathan and Carmichael, 2008; Bond et al., 2013).

-The natural particulate matter mainly originates from two sources: desert dust and volcanic ash. It is generally believed that volcanic emissions, although distinctly opaque, are primarily composed of mineral dust and contain no aerosol BC. In addition, a certain amount of carbonaceous dust is injected into the upper atmosphere from in-falling meteorites, but this is considered insignificant.


Deserts are major sources of aerosol injected into the atmosphere, with mineral dust comprising more than 35% of the emitted primary aerosol mass (Houghton et al., 2001). Half of this amount is attributed to the Saharan desert. It significantly influences the aerosol loading of Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, South America, the East coast of USA, and Europe. In Southern Europe, Saharan dust events (hereafter: SDE) can induce up to 20 daily exceedances of the PM10 standard per year (Rodriguez et al., 2001). In northern countries, the influence of SDE is less pronounced. The similar effects, caused by Gobi desert, can be observed in China. Volcanic eruptions can affect the concentrations even in a greater extent (for instance the eruption of Iceland volcano Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 completely stopped the air-traffic over the northern EU).


The main challenge of Detection of Non-Anthropogenic Air Pollution project (DNAAP) is to disrupt and successfully penetrate the market with commercially affordable solution for the measurement and interpretation of:

-Man-induced (anthropogenic) particulate matter pollution.

-Natural contributions to particulate matter concentrations. The solution will consist of new generation of products and services that will be used to: -Identify the structure of natural particulate matter.

-Provide on-line and instant (high-temporal resolution) measurements of concentrations of natural particulate matter. -Identify anthropogenic pollution by subtracting natural-caused contributions from overall PM10 concentration.




The project focuses six top rated institutions from the territory that specializes in ....


Project coordinator

Aerosol d.o.o., Kamniška 39A, Ljubljana, Slovenia


The Cyprus Institute (CYI)

Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDÆA);
Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

Institut "Jožef Štefan" (IJS)

AEROVIZIJA letalska fotografija d.o.o.



Locations of current measurement sites.



More information on the Saharan dust events predictions and Hysplit calculations.


Barcelona dust forecast center


Dust forecast from University of Athens

NOA dust forecast

HYSPLIT trajectories

Project Funded by: