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US to monitor air pollution at embassies worldwide

Secretary of State John Kerry signs statement of intent to launch air quality programme at select US diplomatic missions

The USA has signed a new air quality partnership agreement between its State Department and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), which will see ambient air quality monitors installed at a number of US embassies and consulates worldwide.

The statement of intent was signed yesterday (February 18) at a ceremony in the US State Department’s Washington D.C. Treaty Room by both Secretary of State John Kerry and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and will see a network of global monitors set up to measure particulate matter PM10.

US Seretary of State John Kerry plans to install air quality monitors at US embassies worldwide as part of an agreement with the EPA

US Secretary of State John Kerry plans to install air quality monitors at US embassies worldwide as part of an agreement with the EPA

The global monitoring network will add to the existing 4,000 domestic air quality monitors run by the EPA across the USA.

According to the US State Department, the partnership will provide both US citizens and government personnel with better information on air quality in order to reduce risks from outdoor air pollution, as well as offering “greater opportunities for the United States to create partnerships on air quality with other nations”.

The State Department said the monitors would be installed “where continuous fine particle pollution (PM2.5) data is currently of limited availability” and the resulting data would be publicly shared through the EPA’s AirNow website.

London

It has not yet been confirmed which US embassies and consulates around the world will be included in the air quality network, but UK campaign group Clean Air in London (CAL) has called on the Secretary of State for a monitor to be installed at the US embassy on Grosvenor Square in central London.

Simon Birkett, CAL founder and director, said: “We could do with some monitors please in London, if Defra progresses plans scrapping local monitors.”

He added: “How many world cities have ever experienced NO2 levels like London?”

The partnership comes as part of a US air quality programme, which also includes a new fellowship programme to enable US technical experts to visit participating diplomatic missions to help transfer skills and help build capacity for air quality monitoring data analysis and maintenance.

In a joint statement launching the air quality agreement, Secretary Kerry and Administrator McCarthy said: “Air pollution is a serious and growing health threat worldwide, yet in many areas, real-time air quality data is not available.

“This partnership will enhance the availability of outdoor air quality data and expertise at a number of US diplomatic missions. The US Department of State has a keen interest in providing sufficient air quality information to U.S. citizens and government personnel overseas to empower them to make informed health decisions.”

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