Whose Pollution Anyway?

Unfavourable meteorological circumstances can have a significant impact on air quality. It comes as no surprise, then, that many of the world’s most polluted cities are awkwardly situated from climatic perspective. In Santiago, Chile, where air pollution regularly exceeds critical levels, scanty rain and low wind speeds prevent atmospheric mixing from taking place, causing a build-up of smog. The city’s striking mountainous backdrop serves only to exacerbate the situation.

Wintertime in pollution-prone cities can prove particularly problematic. When nights are long and the sun much lower in the sky, ground temperature often falls below that of the atmosphere, making vertical air movement (convection) more difficult. Temperature inversions of this nature create warm, impenetrable layers of air that trap pollutants at ground level. This is a common occurrence in Delhi and Beijing (to name just two examples).

Keeping in mind the effect of weather on air pollution, we find that there is another issue at stake – one of transnational, political significance. The wind may help disperse contaminants, but it also carries domestic emissions across international borders. Although no modern nation is entirely blameless, China, with its reliance on dirty fuels and heavy industry, is a serial offender. Japan and South Korea have long borne the brunt of China’s accidental airborne attacks. It is even thought that some air quality violations in the US are directly attributable to emissions originating in Asia [1]. A similar state of affairs exists between the US and Canada. But despite sharing each other’s emissions, an Air Quality Agreement (established in 1991) is in place to tackle transboundary air issues. Bilateral agreements such as this are vital for effective cross-border pollution management. Although responsibility resides with the producer, collaborative initiatives are needed to prevent unwanted hostility.

Despite being an anthropogenic phenomenon, bad air is influenced by a number of factors outside of human control. Regardless, cross-border pollution represents a negative externality and may therefore be viewed as an economic failure on the part of the producer. The observation of meteorological parameters, such as wind speed and direction, relative humidity and temperature, must be integrated into air quality monitoring strategies, as this will give us a better chance at understanding it.

The Particle Sense P600 is a real-time air quality monitor. It can be optionally fitted with a range of meteorological sensors, making it ideal for in-depth air pollution studies.

by Edmund Daley

[1] ‘China Exports Pollution to the U.S., Study Finds’, New York Times (20 January 2014)

Ports & Harbours

Severe weather is having a devastating effect on ports and harbours around the world. Storm Yohan in Lebanon, to name a recent example, has forced multiple facilities to close. With wind speeds of up to 100 km/h, boats and machinery have been damaged, maritime transport cancelled and fisherman left unable to work. The effect of high wind speed on ports is felt around the world, including in the United Kingdom.

In August last year in the UK, small ports and harbours were given access to a £1.7m government package to help repair weather damage. This is in addition to an earlier £200m fund for weather-affected ports [1].

Two of the key issues in ports and harbours are quay cranes being blown over and ships breaking free from mooring lines. According to the TT Club (a leader in insurance and risk management), around one fifth of port insurance claims are related to high winds knocking over cranes, and 13% to broken mooring lines [2].

These figures illustrate not only how common weather damage to ports is, but also its financial impact – from lost output as well as damage costs. These figures also make for grim reading from a health-and-safety standpoint. Falling cranes and unruly ships are no laughing matter!

Ports and harbours must have procedures in place allowing them to monitor the weather and take preemptive measures. This will minimise the risk of injury and damage. They should aim to document these processes as proof of good practice should any incidents occur. This would satisfy health-and-safety standards and allow them to successfully defend insurance claims.

by Ashish Acharya

[1] Cornish Guardian

[2] Hellenic News, ‘When a Foul Wind Blows’

Supporting Photovoltaics

Falling oil prices have caused a stir in the energy arena. Although it’s good news for the consumer (or so they say), the fear is that it will forestall progress currently being made in the renewable sector. Thankfully, clean energy is set to remain on the world’s green agenda. Price volatility means that oil will never provide a match for wind and solar power in terms of electricity generation.

Throughout our 150-year history, Munro Instruments has shown a strong and sustained interest in wind potential. A natural corollary of this has been our entry in the renewable sector, which we consolidated with the release of our very own micro wind turbine.

Now, further demonstrating our commitment to this field, we are excited to announce that we will be partnering with Japan-based EKO Instruments to provide specific measurement solutions for the solar energy market. Over the coming weeks, Munro will be releasing a range of state-of-the-art, all-weather solar radiation and photonic sensors. These will include pyranometers, pyrheliometers, spectroradiometers, sun trackers, sky cameras, along with complete solar monitoring stations. As well as being a valuable addition to many meteorological installations, these sensors are crucial to the PV product life cycle – from cell research, development and production to site prospecting and performance monitoring.

It is hoped that our work in this sector will help facilitate further development in photovoltaics and its associated fields.

by Edmund Daley

Air Quality Control

We are delighted to announce the start of a new collaboration between Munro Instruments and CosaTron, the leading US manufacturer of air contamination control systems. Munro will be acting as CosaTron’s exclusive UK and European representative.

Founded in 1958, CosaTron is a leading provider of indoor air quality solutions. Their Air Purification Systems use unique, patented technology to ensure that the air remains free of contaminants. By accelerating the natural process of coagulation, submicron particles quickly increase in size, allowing for easier collection and removal. The system is installed as a component of an HVAC system, enhancing the performance of filters without generating ozone or ionizing the air. The result: fresh, clean, recirculated air.

This new partnership between Munro and CosaTron is one of great importance. It represents the all-important relationship between diagnostics and control in air quality management. Paul Scott, Product Lead at Munro, commented: ‘We are extremely excited to add CosaTron’s unique indoor air quality solutions to our product portfolio. They are the perfect complement to Munro’s air monitoring equipment and will enable us to provide an even greater level of service to our clients. Indoor air quality is a critical issue worldwide and one we are extremely passionate about. We look forward to expanding our work in this sector through our partnership with CosaTron’.

For more information about CosaTron, visit their website here.