2020 Nov/10

Breakthrough in Research into Air Quality in Industrial Coastal Cities: Findings of Klaipėda University Researchers

Dr. Paulius Rapalis and dr. Nadezhda Lazareva, researchers of the Institute of Marine Research, Klaipėda University, publicly presented the findings of the study Exploration of the Amount and Composition of Atmospheric Particulate Matter and Identification of its Origin in Klaipėda. For seven months, the researchers have been collecting and systematising data in accordance with a methodology not yet tested in Lithuania, but already used in Western European and Asian countries; it enables effective identification of the level of particulate air pollution, particle composition, and pollution sources as well as modelling the trends of solid particle dispersion in the air.

Breakthrough in air pollution studies

Particulate air pollution is a problem relevant not merely to Klaipėda. “The methodology tested and presented by KU researchers is a breakthrough in the solution of the problem of particulate air pollution, important for most contemporary cities. It is especially relevant to Klaipėda, because the city and the port have to live in close neighborhood and find ways to reconcile their specific interests. I welcome the initiative of the Marine Research Institute team to address the ‘hot’ issue and provide a scientific basis for any discussion on this topic. Perhaps the findings of the research will not be pleasant for everyone, but in order to successfully solve problems, we need to know the objective reality,” says KU Rector prof. dr. Artūras Razbadauskas.

In the initial phase of the study, special accumulators were installed in 10 locations of the city to collect airborne particulate matter. The matter was removed from the accumulators four times. Each time, its mass was measured and the composition was examined. Soil samples were taken. The research team – four researchers of the MRI KU Paulius Rapalis, Nadezhda Lazareva, Sergej Suzdalev, and Ričardas Taraškevičius – argue that this is an effective and objective way to find solutions to the problem of dust pollution.

“So far, only individual air pollution measurements have taken place in Klaipėda. Our study covered a large area of the city, and the data obtained revealed where particulate pollution was lower, where it was higher, what the origin of the dust was, and whether it was transport emissions or the effects of manufacturing processes in certain places. With such an analysis, it is already possible to respond to the situation more quickly and improve it, e.g., to direct street washing machines to one or another neighborhood, to intensify green belt development, or to find measures to neutralise pollution caused by manufacturing processes,” comments dr. Rapalis.

Innovation will help environmentalists to identify pollution sources more effectively

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the Republic of Lithuania is pleased with the research conducted by Klaipėda University researchers and its findings. “We can only rejoice in the successful result of the cooperation between the two institutions, since by applying new research methods we have gained the opportunity to significantly reduce pollution not only in Klaipėda, but also in the whole country. With these research data, we can now improve the environmental assessment system, which will make it much easier to determine the impact of economic entities on the environment”, says Rimgaudas Špokas, Director of the EPA.

For Klaipėda University, this study is another step in the implementation of the EU-CONEXUS vision: to use the potential of science to solve the problems of economic and social development of modern cities as effectively as possible.