Mapping real-time air pollution health risk for environmental management: Combining mobile and stationary air pollution monitoring with neural network models
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Air pollution poses health concerns at the global scale. The challenge of managing air pollution is significant because of the many air pollutants, insufficient funds for monitoring and abatement programs, and political and social challenges in defining policy to limit emissions. Some governments provide citizens with air pollution health risk information to allow them to limit their exposure. However, many regions still have insufficient air pollution monitoring networks to provide real-time mapping. Where available, these risk mapping systems either provide absolute concentration data or the concentrations are used to derive an Air Quality Index, which provides the air pollution risk for a mix of air pollutants with a single value. When risk information is presented as a single value for an entire region it does not inform on the spatial variation within the region. Without an understanding of the local variation residents can only make a partially informed decision when choosing daily activities. The single value is typically provided because of a limited number of active monitoring units in the area. In our work, we overcome this issue by leveraging mobile air pollution monitoring techniques, meteorological information and land use information to map real-time air pollution health risks. We propose an approach that can provide improved health risk information to the public by applying neural network models within a framework that is inspired by land use regression. Mobile air pollution monitoring campaigns were conducted across Hamilton from 2005 to 2013. These mobile air pollution data were modelled with a number of predictor variables that included information on the surrounding land use characteristics, the meteorological conditions, air pollution concentrations from fixed location monitors, and traffic information during the time of collection. Fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide were both modelled. During the model fitting process we reserved twenty percent of the data to validate the predictions. The models' performances were measured with a coefficient of determination at 0.78 and 0.34 for PM2.5 and NO2, respectively. We apply a relative importance measure to identify the importance of each variable in the neural network to partially overcome the black box issues of neural network models.
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