So, how good is the air you breathe?

In critical physical situations, the longest time that people can survive without water is 3 days, without food is 3 weeks, but without oxygen from air is only 3 minutes. It is remarkable how air is the by far most important requirement for life on this wonderful planet.

On 06 March 2017, we had an excursion to the Air Quality Monitoring Station in the Neustadt part of Dresden which is one of 29 fixed automatic monitoring air quality stations in the network of the Federal State of Saxony. Among those, each station measures meteorological parameters (temperature, wind direction, wind speed, precipitation, humidity, etc) and air quality parameters (PM10, PM2.5, NOx, SO2, O3, BTX, etc).

By the time we have visited the station, the data showed that PM10, NOX, and O3 were 20.3 µg/m3, 0.125 ppm, and 11 ppb. Whereas the Benzene, Toluene, m.p-Xylene, and o-Xylene (BTX) were recorded 0.8, 1.8, 1.5, and 0.6 µg/m3, respectively. “These data show that no parameter exceeds EU standards. However, concentrations at the Neustadt site are still higher than at other sites in the city of Dresden. This may be linked to the station’s position where traffic is characterised by high vehicle density”, said Dr. Kath, air quality expert from the Saxon Environmental Operating Company (Staatliche Betriebsgesellschaft für Umwelt und Landwirtschaft, Sachsen). In addition, due to the weather conditions at the time, air emission from vehicles activities could not be well mixed into the atmosphere.

Finishing the excursion, the Earth still moves, all of us still have to breathe, and cars still run on the road with emissions. Let’s enjoy the fresh air after the rain but remember that more actions need to be taken to protect our living environment.


Text and photos by Dr. Hoang Anh Le, EM40 course participant from Vietnam.

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