The project named “Comprehensive development of methods for monitoring of air quality as well as informing and education as part of the Natural Environment Monitoring Station, Różany Potok, of the Adam Mickiewicz University” is implemented with the help of the funds from the PL03 “Improving Environmental Monitoring and Inspection” Operational Programme co financed from the funds of the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism 2009 2014.
According to the objectives of the Operational Programme, the Project focuses on the issues related to improving of the quality and reliability of environment-related data and information, and on educational activities in particular, meant to increase the understanding of air quality control and related actions carried out in this area.
The quality of air determines the people’s quality of life. Hence why one of the key aspects of environment monitoring is to examine and assess the air quality, considering the particulate matter pollution. As regards air quality data, Polish databases are quite extensive and contain valuable information. Unfortunately, this data is underutilised, especially for the preparation of synthetic studies.
The social awareness of air quality monitoring, the properties of air in our country, and the impact of the atmospheric pollution on humans and their surroundings, is very poor as well. The knowledge of the capacities and limitations of employed measurement equipment is similarly lacking, even among the professionals.
It is also worth mentioning that the tests done today are for the most part normative ones, i.e. in accordance with the standards laid out in the regulations in force, which provide a certain idea of the atmospheric air quality, yet do not comprise all the factors which may be relevant for an overall assessment of air quality, and do not make full use of the technical capabilities available. Thus, air quality studies can be carried out in a much broader scope, and aside from the units working under the State Environmental Monitoring, a considerable but unused potential can be tapped into—that of higher education institutions, acting as propagators of knowledge in the above-mentioned scope. In addition, as the knowledge is changing, the need arises for developing new study methodologies enabling the use of the latest achievements in analytical chemistry for monitoring.
These very problems are addressed by the “Comprehensive development of methods for monitoring of air quality as well as informing and education as part of the Natural Environment Monitoring Station, Różany Potok, of the Adam Mickiewicz University” Project, which is meant to complement the institutional actions carried out thus far. The tests conducted under the Project and comprehensive analyses of its results are intended to considerably broaden the knowledge about the state of the environment, including abiotic elements, thus providing a basis for the interpretation of natural phenomena. Most of the tests will be carried out as part of the Różany Potok Station, but once the station is equipped with mobile measuring devices (purchased under the Project), it will become possible to gather samples and conduct studies throughout the country.
It should be mentioned that the Natural Environment Monitoring Station Różany Potok was established as a consequence of an agreement on the functioning of Natural Environment Monitoring Integrated Centre, concluded in November 2010. It was signed by representatives of the Chief Inspectorate for Environmental Protection (GIOŚ), Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (UAM), the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (NFEP&WM), the Regional Inspectorate for Environmental Protection (WIOŚ) in Poznań, the Regional Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (WFOŚiGW) in Poznań, and the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection (RDOŚ) in Poznań. The party which assumed responsibility for the implementation of most of the tasks adopted under the Project was the UAM Department of Analytical Chemistry of the Chemistry Faculty, with dr hab. Włodzimierz Urbaniak, UAM professor, as the project manager.
The visualisation of and providing access to air quality data will enable its use for a multidisciplinary assessment of the quality of the environment, and inclusion of many students and employees in the implementation of the project will significantly raise the impact of the air quality data. The purchased equipment and designed procedures will remain in use after the completion of the Project, both in the monitoring tests of the Station and in educational initiatives and workshops.
The main activities under the Project, aside from the monitoring and raising of awareness in this regard, will be the design, verification and popularisation of new, ground-breaking analytical methods for air quality tests. Plans are in place to design analytical procedures to replace the current procedures used in monitoring studies based on atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) as the main analysis method. In particular, a more widespread use of such techniques as microwave plasma-atomic emission spectrometry (MP-AES) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is intended. This will enable for new analytical solutions to be fully and immediately used in environmental monitoring laboratories.
The primary objective of the Project is to raise awareness of the monitoring, air quality and applied analytical methods. It is therefore planned to organise trainings in performing analyses with the use of the newly designed analytical procedures, whereas the results of the tests, along with their interpretation and visualisation, will be made available on an ongoing basis on the Internet and in UAM facilities. The data collected in the course of the implementation of the Project will also be used as educational material in courses for students. Apart from this, it is planned to organise conferences during which the Project’s findings and information on other countries’ experience in air monitoring will be presented. At least one study trip to Norway will made to acquire this data, possibly with participation of employees of the Inspectorate for Environmental Protection.
Aside from Adam Mickiewicz University (Chemistry Faculty, which will acquire research apparatus), the Project will benefit students, employees of environmental monitoring stations, and other environmental protection authorities.
It is worth stressing that the Project involves fulfilment of the requirements laid out in the provisions of EU law and Polish law, as well as in environmental conventions signed and ratified by Poland. The implementation of the Project falls under the fulfilment of the obligations concerning the deployment of quality assurance and quality control system (QA/QC) in the air monitoring system in a member state, provided for in Directive 2008/50/EC, Cleaner Air for Europe (CAFE).
The project is being carried out since 2014 with the use of the measurement and analysis equipment of the Chemistry Faculty of UAM.