Experts gain hands-on knowledge to tackle pollution and health challenges in Asia

Researchers from 12 areas in Asia virtually met to gain practical knowledge for collaborating in the Health Investigation and Air Sensing for Asian Pollution, a Future Earth regional initiative to tackle air pollution and health challenges in Asia.

The Health Investigation and Air Sensing for Asian Pollution (Hi-ASAP) is a regional interdisciplinary research initiative, developed under the umbrella of International Global Atmospheric Chemistry project – Monsoon Asia and Oceania Networking Group (IGAC-MANGO) and endorsed as a Future Earth Asia Activity by Asia Regional Advisory Committee. A virtual Advanced Institute (AI) was held on 5-6, 8, 15 October as the capacity building component of Hi-ASAP by Academia Sinica, Integrated Research on Disaster Risk, International Centre of Excellence-Taipei (IRDR ICoE-Taipei), and International Science Council Regional Office for the Asia and the Pacific (ISC ROAP), in partnership with Regional Centre for Future Earth in Asia, Future Earth Taipei, and IGAC-MANGO.

Air pollution is a severe man-made disaster in current Asia. The main goal of the Hi-ASAP is to provide scientific evidence to support effective policy actions to reduce air pollution levels in this region, in particular PM2.5, by applying newly developed low-cost sensing devices for environmental factors as well as for health indicators. In order to effectively tackle air pollution challenge with sound scientific evidence, this AI aims at sharing the refined research methodology and developed technology under the support of Research Center for Environmental Changes to other countries in Asia. Currently, research groups from 12 different areas in Asia are participating in Hi-ASAP and planning to adopt the same research methodology on the air pollution sensing and health studies, in order to conduct international comparison. This AI serves for this purpose by training all participating research groups with a common methodology for PM2.5 and health evaluation.

Dr. Candice Lung in Academia Sinica is leading this Hi-ASAP activity and is sharing the research methodology and technology through a series of AI. This AI is the second AI with a focus on the study design and data analysis for Hi-ASAP. Originally, it was planned to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; however, due to COVID-19, it adopted the format of on-line training for four days. This AI has designed lectures and hands-on sessions with this new format to keep Hi-ASAP going. And the participants are nominated by Hi-ASAP research groups - eager to learn the methodologies and apply in their countries. Even without face-to-face interactions, this AI further enhances the research capacity in Asia with the ultimate goals to reduce air pollutant levels and health risks via international collaboration.

The Advanced Institute had 3 hours of training each day for 3 days (5-6, 8 October) for the study design and data analysis for sensor data QA/AC, community hot-spot identification, exposure assessment and exposure-health evaluation. The lecturers prepared sample files for these data analysis methods and demonstrated how to use the written packages they prepared to execute the data analysis to answer the scientific questions raised in the Hi-ASAP. A question-answer (Q-A) session was held one week later (15 October) so that participants had some time to practice. A final exam was given to participants after the Q-A session to evaluate their performance and the effectiveness of on-line training. The feedback on this on-line AI will be used to design future on-line training courses if needed. It is hoped that COVID-19 won’t delay too much the progress of Hi-ASAP.

For further information contact Yu-Chun Dolly Chung at dolly0105@gate.sinica.edu.tw.