Bilateral collaboration increasing knowledge about air quality in Brazil

SMHI is collaborating with the Brazilian authorities to improve the air quality in Brazilian cities. The levels of particles and soot in the air are being charted to find solutions that improve air quality and consequently the health of the inhabitants.

Air pollutants can comprise different types of fine particles and soot. Through measuring the air pollution, charting emissions and calculations using air quality models, researchers can determine what influences the air quality of a certain area.

Many sources

“Approximately two-thirds of the pollutants in the city of Sapiranga are the result of what we refer to as background air. This is air pollution that has spread from sources outside of the city. The air from Porto Alegre and its surrounding industrial area affects Sapiranga, but even fires in the natural environment to the north of the city have an impact,” explains Cecilia Bennet, air quality researcher at SMHI.

Wood burning
Wood burning for heating is common in Brazil, both at home and in the industrial sector. Foto Cecilia Bennet, SMHI

The local air quality of central Sapiranga is mainly affected by the industrial sector and homes burning wood for heating, in addition to local traffic pollution.

“In the winter, the effects of wood burning are more noticeable, because then there is an increase in fine particles and soot,” says Cecilia Bennet.

Reduced emissions with new technology

There are many different measures that when combined would improve air quality. Background air improves if emissions from the most polluting industries are reduced, if older diesel-powered vehicles are replaced with newer ones and if the burning of waste and other open-air burning practices are changed. More modern and effective fireplaces or the replacement of heating sources, as well as the modernisation of lorries, would also improve the air quality in Sapiranga.

The modernisation of lorries would improve the air quality
The modernisation of lorries would improve the air quality in Brazilian cities. Foto Jorge Amorim, SMHI

Work now continues in the city of Curitiba, where a similar study is being conducted. Both studies are being conducted together with a number of local actors as part of a bilateral cooperation between Sweden and Brazil.