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European Commission plans prototype smog index

UK consultancy Ricardo-AEA awarded project to develop tool that will assess air quality impact of fuel-using products

A European Commission project to develop an air quality index showing the environmental performance of fuel-using products has been awarded to UK consultancy Ricardo-AEA.

The consultancy announced today (January 22) that it will deliver the ‘smog index’ project, which will enable the Commission to identify periods of high pollution and deliver health advice mitigating this risk.

A Europe-wide 'smog index' is to be developed by Ricardo-AEA on behalf of the European Commission

A Europe-wide ‘smog index’ is to be developed by Ricardo-AEA on behalf of the European Commission

It is being developed in response to a recent European report which found that 59% of Europeans still feel poorly informed about air quality issues.

In developing the index, Ricardo-AEA will be responsible for reviewing Member States’ existing air quality information systems and proposing a harmonised air quality index for all of Europe, including the prototype data platform index to ensure that the information is easily accessible to the public.

The air quality index will be accompanied by a list of fuel-using products assessing their performance in relation to air quality.

According to Ricardo-AEA, this ‘smog index’ for various products will include road passenger vehicles as well as other small scale combustion machinery, such as petrol lawnmowers, helping consumers to understand their environmental impact in terms of their level emissions of air pollutants.

The prototype for the Europe-wide air quality platform is likely to be finalised in 2016, Ricardo-AEA said, before being reviewed by the European Commission.

Paul Willis, air measurement and data visualisation manager at Ricardo-AEA, said the consultancy was “very pleased to be delivering this key project for the European Commissionâ€?.

He added: “A consistent EU-wide air quality index will help to make information on air pollution more accessible. This will support the work of international researchers and enable those most at risk, such as those with respiratory illnesses, to modify their activities based on when air pollution is high, mitigating the health impacts. Providing consumers with easy to understand information on how polluting a product is should also help to foster more environmentally responsible behaviour, reducing harmful emissions across Europe.â€?

The project builds on Ricardo-AEA’s previous work delivering air quality information platforms such as the UK’s ‘uBreathe’ and Scotland’s ‘Air Quality in Scotland’ free phone applications, which are designed to provide the public with information on air quality as well as health advice.

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