Event Abstract

The CAPTOR project: Joint Efforts Reducing Ozone Pollution

  • 1 Zentrum für Soziale Innovation, Technology and Knowledge, Austria

Air pollution has become a major global concern. In 2012, nearly half a million people in Europe alone have died of premature deaths due to elevated levels of particulate matter in the air. Furthermore it puts considerable damage to agriculture as well as our natural environment (EEA 2015). Environmental organizations have long been trying to increase the awareness for air pollution, especially with regards to elevated ozone levels. But the readiness and power of European citizens to take actions themselves is limited. With the recent emerging of a new generation of low-cost sensors for air quality measurement new opportunities arise. CAPTOR is a European citizen science project which builds on these recent developments and explores new concepts to reduce ozone pollution. This extended abstract describes the CAPTOR approach. CAPTOR - Collective Awareness Platform for Tropospheric Ozone Pollution CAPTOR is a Horizon 2020 project which started in January 2016 with 8 partners from three countries across Europe (Captor Partners 2016). The overall aim is to create a sustainable collective awareness platform on the topic of tropospheric ozone pollution as a joint effort of environmental activists, air quality researchers, concerned citizens and local decision makers. CAPTOR’s activities focus on regions in Austria, Italy and Spain where citizens will be involved by handling air quality measuring tools at their homes and in community places, such as schools. Researchers’ efforts will essentially focus on increasing the quantity and the quality of data collected by citizens as well as providing open access to all research data outcomes and raising awareness. In local community platforms (LCPs) that are offered in the regions respective languages communication will take place on a local level, involving discussions around daily concerns of citizens and inform about events, reports, pictures und experiences from these activities (CAPTOR LCP 2016). Tropospheric Ozone Pollution Generally, when speaking about ozone, we have to differentiate between stratospheric and tropospheric ozone. While stratospheric ozone (“good” ozone) blocks the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and prevents them from reaching the earth’s surface, tropospheric (ground-level) ozone (O3) (“bad” ozone) is an air pollutant that damages human health, vegetation, and ecosystems (EEA 2016, Ccacoalition 2016). Attached.Figure 1 : Ground-level Ozone and Summer Smog (pic: LfU 2015) Ozone is sometimes referred to as a “forgotten pollutant“, given that it is formed in rural areas through chemical reactions from precursor gases emitted mainly in urban environments. Therefore, the polluters (the urban population) often do not suffer from the effects of the degraded air quality generated by their emissions to the same extent as the rural population who has limited influence on the emissions that degrade the air they breathe. Low cost sensors – the opportunity to create Citizen Science projects Traditionally air quality has been monitored using expensive reference equipment located at a number of monitoring sites hosted by meteorological stations. In recent years, sensor technology related to air quality has made significant and rapid progress (Castell et.al, 2013). Sensors are available for much lower cost, they are of small size, low weight and open hardware based. It is therefore possible to deploy such sensors in a much larger number than reference monitoring stations, measuring urban air quality at unprecedented spatial detail (Kumar et.al., 2015) and in locations where monitoring with traditional facilities is not possible. However, the use of low-cost sensors for air quality research is still in its infancy and needs e.g. further proof of accuracy and reliability. Attached.Figure 2: Sensors provided by the CAPTOR project to citizens Citizens who agree to participate in the project as CAPTOR sensor hosts don’t need previous experience as they will be guided by a team of experts. Sensors are provided by the project and also installed and uninstalled by project members. In the course of the project we expect the partnership between the different stakeholders to grow and volunteers and communities taking full ownership of the low cost measuring stations and the collected data. The Captor Pilots – a Citizen Science bottom-up approach In CAPTOR project there are three national pilots which will take place in European regions heavily affected by tropospheric ozone (O3). The red dots on the map in Figure 3 show where measured data of O3 are above the target value of the European Union. The pilot regions are situated in: • Barcelonès-Vallès Oriental-Osona (Catalonia, Spain) • Pianura Padana (Po Valley, Italy) • Burgenland, Steiermark and Niederösterreich (Austria) Citizens in these regions will be ask to provide a place for a sensor for 3 periods of measurement in Spain (summer of 2016, 2017 and 2018) and two periods of measurement in Austria and Italy (summer 2017 and 2018). Attached.Figure 3: Captor Pilots in areas with elevated tropospheric ozone (O3) levels (map: EEA 2015) The citizens’ sensors will collect data for tropospheric ozone, which are key to improve scientific and citizen knowledge about the problem, as well as to mobilize citizens and local decision makers to find solutions. The data will be public and the project will inform sensor hosts about the quality of the air and the proposals to change the situation in an understandable manner. The purpose of CAPTOR is to stimulate mutual learning between the involved stakeholders of local communities, citizens, NGOs, and scientists who are all equal partners in the project. CAPTOR’s expected impact The CAPTOR project is based on the assumption that the combination of citizen science, collaborative networks and environmental grassroots social activism helps to raise awareness and find solutions to the air pollution problem, having a high potential impact on fields such as education, social innovation, science, environment, politics and industry. More specifically, the impact that we expect at societal level will be measurable in a series of relevant indicators, such as changes in attitude and in life-style, citizen’s increased awareness, sense of ownership and responsibility for air quality, influence on policies. In a carefully drafted socio-ecological impact assessment strategy evidence will be collected to provide indications of measurable impact, successful elements and possible barriers and obstacles encountered in the citizen science approach of CAPTOR.

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This project is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Programme under the Grant Agreement No. 688110. Thanks to all consortium members who collaboratively created the CAPTOR concept described in this extended abstract. It is complementing the provided poster which was presented at ECSA2016 in Lunz am See, Austria. Special thanks for the voluntary efforts of Florian Heigl and Daniel Dörler to establish and maintain the Austrian Citizen Science network and platform (citizen-science.at).


Captor LCP 2016: Access to local community platforms: https://www.captor-project.eu/index.php/en/local-activities/

Captor Partners 2016: https://www.captor-project.eu/index.php/en/project/partners/

Castell, N., Viana, M., Minguillón, M. C., Guerreiro, C., & Querol, X. (2013). Real-world application of new sensor technologies for air quality monitoring . European Environment Agency (EEA), Copenhagen.

Ccacoalition 2016: Climate and Clean Air Coalition: http://www.ccacoalition.org/en/slcps/tropospheric-ozone (accessed 15.06.2016)

EEA 2015. Air quality in Europe - 2015 report. European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark.

EEA 2016: Air pollution by ozone. Online: http://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/air/ozone (accessed 15.06.2016)

Kumar P, Morawska L., Martani C., Biskos G., Neophytou M., Di Sabatino, S., Bell M., Norford L., Britter R. (2015). The rise of low cost sensing for managing ai r pollution in cities. Environ Int. 75, 199- 205 .

LfU 2015: Bodennahes Ozon und Sommersmog. Bayerisches Landesamt für Umwelt 2015

Keywords: citizen science, Air Pollution, Ozone, low cost sensors, Horizon2020 project, CAPTOR pilots, Collective Awareness Platform, CAPS project, Environmental activists

Conference: Austrian Citizen Science Conference 2016, Lunz am See, Austria, 18 Feb - 19 Feb, 2016.

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

Topic: Citizen Science - Quo vadis?

Citation: Kroop S, Schäfer T and Kieslinger B (2016). The CAPTOR project: Joint Efforts Reducing Ozone Pollution. Front. Environ. Sci. Conference Abstract: Austrian Citizen Science Conference 2016. doi: 10.3389/conf.FENVS.2016.01.00010

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Received: 23 Jun 2016; Published Online: 06 Sep 2016.

* Correspondence: Ms. Sylvana Kroop, Zentrum für Soziale Innovation, Technology and Knowledge, Vienna, 1150, Austria, kroop@zsi.at