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Air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk to human health, and one of the main avoidable causes of death and disease globally, according to the United Nation’s Environment Programme. This fact led the organization to hold on-line presentations by the world’s leading scientists on air quality as part of their first-ever International Day of Clean Air for blue skies.

Bryan Duncan presented during the event and participated in a panel discussion on air quality. He spoke about NASA's free and publicly available air quality monitoring system and his work upgrading this system. Duncan is an atmospheric scientist with the Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team (HAQAST) as well as a research physical scientist in the Atmospheric Chemistry & Dynamics Laboratory at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Scientists giving a presentation
Atmospheric scientist Bryan Duncan doing a “Science on a Sphere” presentation at a NASA Goddard “Beautiful Earth” event. Credits: NASA

“I talked about air quality changes around the world as shown by satellite data,” Duncan said. “NASA resources like satellite data and its new global air quality forecast system can be combined with low-cost sensors to provide an affordable and integrated approach to air quality monitoring around the world.”

Duncan, the project scientist for NASA’s Aura mission, presented information on projects based on recent data from NASA Aura satellite’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) as well data collected from Aura OMI of the air pollutants, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. He also discussed a new global air quality forecast system developed by the NASA Goddard Global Modeling and Assimilation Office.

For HAQAST, Duncan and his team are developing a multi-pollutant Health Air Quality Index and applying it to NASA’s overall global air quality forecast system. “We are looking to working with a few city governments, including Rio de Janeiro and Quito, to determine how to get these forecasts into the hands of decision-makers,” Duncan added.

More about his Health and Air Quality program area work can be found at his HAQAST profile page.

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