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School of Mathematical Sciences

Air Pollution Statistics and Water Quality Monitoring

When: Monday, June 13, 2022 - Tuesday, June 14, 2022, 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Where: Maths Lecture Theatre, School of Mathematical Sciences, Mile End, London E1 4NS

Speaker: A full list of speakers can be found at the bottom of the page.

This two day workshop will deal with the statistics of measured air and water pollution concentrations and the implications for health.

One of the aims of this event is to discuss the design of appropriate policy guidelines with policy makers and experts in the field. Many of the current environmental standards and guidelines for air and water quality focus on allowed mean or maximum values. However, recent research emphasizes that fluctuations of pollutants are of utmost importance, and thus it is important to investigate the medical and environmental consequences of these fluctuations, meaning the entire probability density function (PDF) of the concentration time series (including extreme events) and not just the mean or maximum should be relevant for setting an appropriate policy. These probability densities are typically non-Gaussian, and complex behaviour is generated.

Research in the School of Mathematical Sciences at QMUL is looking at probability densities of concentrations of air pollutants and water quality indicators, and predictions are made using machine learning algorithms. It is only recently that the fluctuations within environmental systems have been mathematically and statistically understood in a much better way, with new relevant data (from real-time sensors in rivers and from a dense network of air pollution monitoring sites) and new mathematical techniques now being available. The results of this research should be fed and incorporated into future policy setting.

To give a simple example to illustrate the problem: What is more harmful for the human body, inhaling for one year a constant concentration of particulate matter PM2.5, or inhaling for 6 months a high concentration and for 6 months a low concentration of PM2.5, with the same mean averaged over a year? Similar questions can be asked for the exposure of fish and invertebrate to potentially harmful pollutants, or for temperature and oxygen levels in freshwaters. The problem is general: For a full understanding one should take into account temporal distributions (PDFs) and not just mean values of a given pollutant in air or water. These fluctuations are a very timely topic of current research, and  in particular the consequences for human health and ecosystem health are important to understand.

By enabling discussion meetings between leading researchers in the field, medical experts and policy makers, and at the same time explaining the results and consequences of current research in a simple and understandable way, the planned workshop will create an opportunity for a re-thinking, re-shaping and re-design of policies, and for fruitful cross-disciplinary scientific interaction.

Organisers: Prof. Christian Beck (School of Mathematical Sciences, QMUL), Prof. Jonathan Grigg (Barts Medical School, QMUL), Prof. Kate Heppell (School of Geography, QMUL), Prof. Iwan Jones (School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences, QMUL)

Event Overview 

The workshop consists of scientific overview talks and discussion sessions. Day 1 will concentrate on air pollution, medical consequences, and sensor data, day 2 on water quality monitoring, environmental sustainability and ecosystem health. Some machine learning techniques and modern methods of data analysis will be discussed. We are inviting leading researchers in the field, as well as representatives from government, industry and organizations responsible for policy setting. We hope that the workshop will enable cross-disciplinary discussions in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. The workshop is funded by a grant from Research England.

Day 1: Air pollution statistics and health consequences (13 June)

Gary Fuller, Imperial College
Benjamin Schaefer, KIT Karlsruhe
Kangrui Wang, Warwick & Alan Turing Institute
Philipp Meyer, Potsdam 
Roland Wolf, Dundee
Karen Exley, UK Health Security Agency
Alison Gowers, UK Health Security Agency
Geraint Davies, Member of Parliament

Day 2: Innovative applications of real-time sensor data to improve river water quality and health (14 June)

Steve Morris, Defra
Matt Loewenthal, EA
Matt Hill, Yorkshire Water
Kieran Khamis, Birmingham
Charlotte Lloyd, Bristol
Rosie Nelson, Thames Water
Alex Martin, Wessex Water & Defra

Preliminary Schedule:

Monday 13 June 2022
Air Pollution Statistics and Health Consequences
Click here to view the schedule for 13 June [PDF 154KB] 

Tuesday 14 June 2022
Innovative Applications of Real-time Sensor Data to Improve River Water Quality and Health
Click here to view the schedule for 14 June [PDF 120KB]

Please click here to register

Registration is free. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Dinner is by invitation.

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