The APAO database

Atmospheric Pollutants data collection by Aircraft Observations

Background and history

Observations taken from aircraft flights have always made an important contribution to understanding the current state of the earth, the atmosphere and the environment.

There are today various research programs that use commercial, military and private aircrafts for collecting basic weather data, such as positions in time and space, wind speeds and direction, and temperature. Few programs however are collecting air-contaminant concentrations.

In the frame of the APAO research initiative, Data Mining International is the only independent research agency in Europe that is able to collect routine air-contaminant concentrations, using a non-pressurized aircraft flying at various altitudes from sea-level up to 15000 feet.

Operational implications

Using dedicated electronic sensors, air-contaminant concentrations are recorded on a regular basis at different altitudes and geographical locations in Europe.

Five main contaminants are collected in routine flights, and additional elements are collected in specific projects:

  • Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5)
  • Ozone (O3)
  • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Sulphur dioxide (SO2)

Currently, around one million observations have been recorded, which are used for populating health models with epidemiological data.

Epidemiological evaluation studies indicate that good quality air-contaminant observations are cofactors of various diseases on earth.

Expected benefits

The quality of the APAO observations obtained from the light aircraft operated by Data Mining International, is routinely monitored and the information is then analyzed alongside epidemiological data. This allows for the enrichment of many modelling projects that assess how health status is impacted by the environment and air-contaminants in the atmosphere.

Correlation between air-contaminants and health indicators

Health impacts from air-contaminants