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RUDN Physicists Join in Addressing the Global Problem of Tropospheric Ozone

RUDN Physicists Join in Addressing the Global Problem of Tropospheric Ozone

Within the framework of a joint project with the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom and the Russian Academy of Sciences, a station for monitoring of the local state of the troposphere was put into service at the Research Institute of Physics and Technology (RUDN University). Particular attention will be paid to the ozone level in the surface atmospheric stratum, because ozone is positioned as one of the most dangerous air pollutants.

Molecular ozone is an active chemical oxidizing agent that adversely affects living organisms and vegetation, contributes to the destruction and degradation of materials. When inhaled, it causes oxidative stress in the body – a chain of reactions leading to the formation of free radicals, which, in their turn, cause irreparable damage to all body systems.

The launch of the first atmospheric air quality monitoring station at the Research Institute of Physics and Technology of RUDN University started the creation of the All-Russian University Network for the automatic monitoring of tropospheric ozone and its predecessors. The project is supported by the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom and scientists of the Institute of General Physics named after A.M. Prokhorov of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It is expected that in the near future several dozens of other Russian universities, where similar stations for monitoring air quality will be created and launched, will connect to this network.

There is a widespread opinion about the usefulness of ozone: stratospheric ozone protects our planet from the ultraviolet radiation of the Sun, and is also used in the treatment of certain infectious diseases. However, in the case of the lower layers of the atmosphere and air that a person breathes, this is not the case. The problem of air pollution with ozone is a new one for Russia. It is caused by climate change and significant air pollution as a result of the rapid growth of vehicles in cities. The high ozone level in the surface atmospheric stratum poses a significant danger to the health of the population of our country: there is a direct correlation between the level of ozone in the surface atmosphere and the state of public health, the spread of a number of diseases, mortality, the state of ecological systems and forests, and crop yields. That is why the idea of creating a branched network for monitoring the ozone level in the lower layers of the atmosphere looks particularly relevant: constant monitoring and free access to this information is necessary. Such a system will enable to evaluate the effect of ozone on the health of the population, as well as the economic losses of the state and business.

The contribution of increased ozone concentrations to additional global mortality is estimated at 375 thousand deaths per year, primarily due to mortality from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. In EU countries, elevated ground-level ozone concentrations result in 21,400 additional deaths and 14,000 hospital admissions with respiratory illnesses per year. In WHO documents, ozone is classified as one of the most toxic air pollutants that adversely affect the health of the population of Europe and other continents.

At the end of 2019, RUDN scientists launched an environmental monitoring system and began its pilot operation. Long-term monitoring of ozone, nitrogen oxides, carbon oxides, hydrocarbons, meteorological parameters in the surrounding atmosphere is carried out, methods and algorithms for filtering and processing multi-channel data are tested. RUDN scientists study short-term (hours, days, weeks) relationships between the main recorded parameters of concentrations of ozone, nitrogen oxides, carbon oxides, hydrocarbons, meteorological parameters in the atmosphere.

Based on the analysis of the obtained data, requirements for optimizing and improving the software and hardware complex, methods and algorithms for processing, storing, filtering and visualizing data will be developed. They are necessary for formulating recommendations on the use of the system and the data obtained in order to monitor environmental pollution in megacities and background areas and to assess risks to public health.

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