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When the air quality map for Vienna is first accessed from the main city page, the viewer will be met with several discs, each showing a number, which are possibly overlapping each other and therefore not easy to see. However, once the map is expanded, the discs will start to separate and things will become clearer. The colour of the discs is explained in detail at the bottom of the screen. You may also notice that the overall colour of the page subtly reflects the air quality as it takes on that colour as a pale background. The numbers within the discs are the US AQI reading which is an internationally recognised set of metrics endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This number is calculated by measuring the six most prolific pollutants and producing this number which can then be used to compare air quality in different cities throughout the world.
Each disc represents the position of a ground monitoring station and if chosen, will reveal an entire page just dedicated to that station. The main pollutant will be listed which is usually PM2.5 as it is used as a standard against which others are measured. Scrolling further down the page will be a brief weather forecast giving the temperature, humidity, wind speed and air pressure, followed by a forecast of air quality for the next few days. This forecast can be useful if planning to travel shortly. There is even a graph which shows the condition of the air every hour should that be of interest to the reader.
When looking at the map page, directly underneath the map is shown the total number of stations from where the information has been gathered. Continuing down the page is listed the various stations in their ranking of air cleanliness. The cleanest area of the city was recorded at the Stixneusiedl station. The most popular stations are listed according to the number of followers they have. These followers will be notified of any unexpected change in the air quality.
Towards the bottom of the page is a link which invites the reader to download the free air quality app which gives the latest pollution level directly to your mobile device.
On the right-hand side of the screen is found a table which shows the ranking of cities throughout the world with the dirtiest city at the top. This can be very interesting if comparing them to your home city.
For the highest benefits, it is best to consult both the main city page as well as the air pollution map for Vienna. During the second quarter of 2022, Vienna was enjoying a period of “Good” quality air with a US AQI reading of 37. The main pollutant was identified as PM2.5 with a measurement of 9 µg/m³. In total, there were six major pollutants measured and recorded in Vienna. This level of PM2.5 is currently almost twice the recommended level of 5 µg/m³ as recommended by the WHO.
The areas of poorer air quality can be identified on the air pollution map for Vienna by looking at the numbers and colours on the discs. The darker coloured discs show worse air quality than the paler green ones. The discs with the higher numbers have a higher US AQI reading which means the air is worse quality than the lower numbered ones. The list under the map may also be consulted as the stations on the list are ranked from the dirtiest to the cleanest. As previously stated, the station at Stixneusiedl is registering “Moderate” air quality whereas all the others are showing “Good” levels.
The next section reveals how popular the stations are and lists how many people follow them. This enables them to receive the latest updates with regards to air quality and future predictions.
In the city of Vienna, three-quarters of the particulate matter emissions come from long-distance transport, i.e., from sources of pollution that are outside of Vienna, often hundreds of kilometres away. These emissions are carried into the city by the wind and thus contribute to air pollution in Vienna.
In winter, pollution from nitrogen oxides from road traffic increases in cities like Vienna, with consequences for people's health.
The general public still fails to recognise the importance of clean air for human health and nature. According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), around 7,500 people died prematurely in Austria in 2015 as a result of air pollution. Although progress has been made in recent years through action at international and national levels, there are still significant costs associated with air pollution - e.g., health care expenditure, compromised ecosystems, and reduced crop yields in agriculture.
Combating particulate matter has been the focus in recent years. Therefore, great progress has been made in reducing all fine dust fractions and achieving the target in 2030 is not particularly challenging. In terms of volume, the biggest producers of PM2.5 are households with biomass heating systems (above all all-burner boilers, logwood stoves and tiled stoves), which far exceed all other areas (traffic, off-road, trade). The extent to which black carbon is reduced in the measures to be taken is relevant for improving health. In the case of particulate matter, on the other hand, it could become politically interesting if the few regions in Austria with notorious exceedances of particulate matter emission limit values.
There is good scientific evidence that particulate matter is harmful to health. In some cases, dangerous substances such as heavy metals or aluminium accumulate on the surfaces of the particles, which can then cause cancer, for example. But the particles themselves are also a risk – and the smaller they are, the greater the risk. This is because the smaller particles penetrate deeper into the airways. Ultrafine dust can even get into the blood via the alveoli.
If the ultrafine particles get into the bloodstream, they can reach all organs. The blood can become thicker, increasing the risk of a heart attack. They can also get into the brain, where they can contribute to minor strokes.
6 Data sources