What kind of air do you breathe? New methods help monitor how we are exposed to air pollution

People should have the right to breathe clean air and live a healthy life, says Tareq Hussein, Professor of Atmospheric Science.

What are your research topics?

My research focuses on air quality and the exposure pathways of air pollution. This includes human activities and their residence time in different environments, ranging from enclosed indoor spaces to open outdoor areas.

Recently, I have been interested in developing low-cost instruments and novel data-handling methods to monitor air quality and estimate the personal real-time exposure to air pollution.

On a city scale, this includes handling a huge amount of data and information, including air quality data, environmental conditions, human activity patterns, the health status of the population and geographical information.

Thanks to continuously developing information technology, we have new tools that make it possible to reveal the secrets of exposure sciences and air quality.

Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?

People should have the right to breathe clean air and live a healthy life.

Air quality and exposure sciences are parts of a large puzzle connecting many interdisciplinary fields and applications. Air quality and exposure affect and are affected by societal, health, physical, information technology, engineering, and economical sciences. Collaboration across these disciplines is expanding!

Urban people spend most of their time inside enclosed environments such as homes, offices, classrooms, and the workplace. Understanding this from the air quality point of view requires advanced techniques that include experimental methods, data analysis, and modelling. A holistic approach is needed to improve people’s quality of life everywhere.

Monitoring exposure to air pollution by means of low-cost sensors and mobile applications have made it possible for urban individuals to control and monitor their daily lifestyle and adapt to air quality exposure at an individual level. Stakeholders and decision-makers also benefit from these methods, as they make strategies to have healthy urban areas and comfortable environmental conditions.

What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?

It’s great to see how all parties benefit when researchers from different fields and professional groups provide their expertise in developing new technology to serve humanity.

Knowing what kind of air we breathe triggers our awareness and encourages us to take immediate actions to improve our lifestyle and environmental conditions.