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Brazil launches air-quality-monitoring program

Stations across the country to begin measuring particulate matter in 2020

by Meghie Rodrigues, special to C&EN
June 20, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 25


Photo of smog above São Paulo.
Credit: Aloisio Mauricio/ZUMA Press/Newscom
Smog blanketed São Paulo on June 10.

Brazil’s Ministry of the Environment announced this month that it is launching a National Network of Air Quality Monitoring. The project will initially measure airborne particulate matter in 17 states that currently lack such monitoring.

Brazil has 27 states, 10 of which currently monitor air quality in some form.

The air-monitoring network will begin by monitoring particulate matter with diameters less than 10 μm and 2.5 μm starting next year, the Ministry of the Environment says. Monitoring stations will later also measure pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and carbon monoxide.

State governments will conduct official data analysis. However, the data “will be open to any institution interested in analyzing the data,” the environment ministry tells C&EN. The estimated cost to develop and install the monitoring stations and data system is R$30 million (US$7.8 million), which will come from unspecified “environmental funds,” the ministry says.

How the environment ministry will respond to the data collected by the network is an open question. Brazil’s National Environmental Council (Conama), which is part of the environment ministry, sets air-quality standards.

Conama standards, however, do not have the force of law. “They’re general principles that foresee which pollutants to monitor and determine standards of air quality that should be observed,” says Beatriz Oyama, a project analyst at the Institute for Energy and Environment, an environmental advocacy group.

In late April, Minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles backed sectors of the automotive industry in an effort to soften new standards for emission filters on popular motorcycles. Such filters must currently last 18,000 km, which equates to an average operating life of less than 2 years. Conama voted to increase filter lifetime only slightly to 20,000 km instead of a proposed lifetime of 35,000 km.



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