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APAM - Air Pollution in an African Megacity: Source Apportionment and Health Implications

Project Type
Nacional / Público
Financial Program
FCT - PTDC - Projectos em todos os domínios científicos
Global Funding Value
249998.05 €
IPB Funding Value
53500.00 €
Type of project
Research Project
Principal Investigator
Manuel Joaquim Sabença Feliciano
Air pollution is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality worldwide. It is responsible for more deaths than many better-known risk factors such as malnutrition, alcohol use, and physical inactivity. Each year, more people die from air pollution-related diseases than from malaria and road traffic. Most developed countries have high-tech equipment and monitoring systems to collect and analyze data on air quality, which is then used to inform policy and the population, to forecast and to trigger the adoption of prevention and control measures. Many nations in Africa have some of the highest estimated levels of atmospheric pollution, but the poorest infrastructure in place for monitoring and tracking air quality. The scarcity of ground-based data on air quality is a real concern, pointing to a gap that needs to be urgently sealed to enable the continent to better understand the causes and related health risks. The availability of data can help to increase public awareness and broaden the vision by policymakers to adopt appropriate legislation and air quality management. APAM is centered in Luanda, although the findings may impact on other African regions, and aims to answer the following 3 main questions: What causes air pollution? What are the effects? What are the possible solutions to tackle it? For this purpose, an initial screening and base-line study will be conducted using passive samplers to obtain geographical patterns of the main air pollutants. A long-term monitoring campaign of inhalable particles (PM10 and PM2.5), the most harmful form of air pollution, will be carried out at a representative location. Gaseous pollutants, meteorological parameters, PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 will be continuously monitored by conventional equipment, whose measurements will be compared with those of low-cost sensors. A vast array of cutting-edge analytical techniques will be applied to PM samples to obtain the detailed organic and inorganic composition. The application of the Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) receptor model and the Multilinear Engine (ME) platform to the datasets, complemented with a mass balance methodology, will make it possible to identify sources and to estimate their contributions to the PM levels. Backward trajectory cluster analysis in conjunction with the redistributed concentration field (RCF) model will be applied to assess prevailing geographical origins of the identified sources. After a first toxicological screening by a luminescent bacteria bioassay, the cytotoxic and genotoxic properties of the PM-bound chemical constituents will be studied in vitro using several cell models of the human respiratory tract. Different endpoints will be evaluated: cell viability, oxidative stress, inflammation, oxidative DNA damage, cell cycle dynamics, and nuclear and mitotic abnormalities. The Ames test will be applied to investigate the potential mutagenicity caused by PM constituents. The bioaccessibility of PM-bound organic and inorganic components will be studied in vitro using physiologically based extraction assays. Following the USEPA methodology, carcinogenic risks via inhalation of bioaccessible fractions will be compared to those of total concentrations of contaminants. A dosimetry model will be applied for calculating internal doses of specific particle-bound metals, as well as the deposition, clearance and retention of particles in the human respiratory tract and the mass transferred to the gastrointestinal tract and blood. A user-friendly advisory document for application by stakeholders for assessing and mitigating air quality impacts will be released at the end of the project. APAM fits several societal challenges and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to climate action, health and wellbeing, and transports. The project is a joint proposal of UA, IPB and UAN, but has the support of various centers of excellence from different countries: IDAEA (Barcelona), University of A Coruña, University of Florence, University of Pannonia and Technical University of Crete. Thus, APAM will benefit from complementary sampling, analytical, toxicity testing and modeling capabilities of collaborative partners, generating a transcontinental and multidisciplinary project of atmospheric scientists, chemists, toxicologists and modelers. It will contribute to advance academic, scientific and technological cooperation between different institutions to foster Angola’s skills in air quality monitoring through advanced training and capacity building.

Project Team

Project Partners

  • Universidade de Aveiro