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Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 225–232 | Cite as

New indicator approaches for effective urban air quality management

  • Peter J. Peterson
  • W. Peter Williams
Environmental Management Strategies

Abstract

Measurements of urban air quality at monitoring stations in developed countries have frequently involved the criteria gaseous pollutants, particulates, hazardous air pollutants, perceived air quality and relevant meteorological conditions. Large numbers of indicators have therefore been established to quantify emissions, concentrations and environmental and human health impacts of each of these groups of substances. To simplify the data for management, several indicators have been grouped together to form urban air quality indices but the weightings of individual variables is contentious.

In industrialising and developing countries, data may be limited and traditional air pollutant indicators cannot often be constructed. The emphasis therefore has to be placed on the development of policy-relevant indicators, such as Response Indicators that reflect different policy principles for regulating air pollutant emissions. Indices that quantify the air quality management capabilities and capacities at the city level provide further useful decision-relevant tools. Four sets of indices, namely, 1. air quality measurement capacity, 2. data assessment and availability, 3. emissions estimates, and 4. management enabling capabilities, and a composite index to evaluate air quality management capability, were constructed and applied to 80 cities. The indices revealed that management capability varied widely between the cities. In some of the cities, existing national knowledge on urban air quality could have been more effectively used for management.

It was concluded that for effective urban air quality management, a greater emphasis should be given, not just to monitoring and data capture programmes, but to the development of indicators and indices that empower decision-makers to initiate management response strategies. Over-reliance on restricted, predetermined sets of traditional air quality indicators should be avoided.

Keywords

Air quality cities environmental management Europe indicators indices urban management 

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Copyright information

© Ecomed Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J. Peterson
    • 1
  • W. Peter Williams
    • 2
  1. 1.Life Sciences DivisionKing’s College London, University of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Monitoring and Assessment Research CentreKing’s College London, University of LondonLondonUK

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