Air quality monitoring with MENATIR: how the data collected by UAVs ensure environmental safety of the population

Ecological safety is an important component of ensuring a comfortable life of the population and a guarantee of environmental protection.

Control over the condition of the atmospheric air is one of the key elements of the environmental monitoring system, the quality of which affects human health. However, air pollution harms not only the health of the population, but also has a direct impact on the economy. According to the international environmental organization Greenpeace, the losses of the world economy only from the consequences of the impact of fossil fuel combustion on public health amount to $ 8 billion, which is 3.3% of world GDP. 

And a report by the independent research organization Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air shows that Ukraine ranks 4th in the world in terms of economic losses from air pollution, behind only China, Bulgaria and Hungary. According to researchers, Ukraine's GDP losses in 2018 from illness and death caused by toxic air pollution amounted to 5.8%.

To ensure constant control over the environment and the use of natural resources, even in hard-to-reach places, an environmental inspectorate is assisted by UAVs. The Aerial Monitoring UAV Network Menatir, designed by Culver Aviation engineers, allows to perform continuous monitoring of air quality in automatic mode. Here is how it works.

How air quality is monitored 

Continuous monitoring and control of atmospheric air quality are necessary measures for minimizing emissions of harmful substances and implementation of appropriate measures designed to ensure this, in particular: 

  • application of special filters at industrial and other enterprises;
  • encouraging government agencies to develop environmentally oriented legislation and relevant programs;
  • motivation to use alternative energy sources and "green" modes of transport;
  • control over the disposal of garbage and other waste;
  • promotion of resource saving measures among the population, etc.

To determine the level of air pollution in most countries of the world, the AQI (Air Quality Index) is used. It is usually formed by levels, each of which has its own description, characteristics, color code and standardized information message for the population. 

In most countries, the following indicators are monitored to calculate the air quality index: ground-level ozone, fine particles of 2.5 and 10 microns, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide. Based on their concentrations obtained from the gas analyzers of air quality monitoring systems for a certain period of time (usually 8, 24 and 48 hours), they are calculated and assigned a value on a numerical scale from 0 to 500. If the AQI in a certain area exceeds the value of 100, its population should be informed about the possible health impact. 

What is the situation with air quality monitoring in Ukraine? 

Unfortunately, the air monitoring system in Ukraine is outdated and there is no AQI standard at all. The legislation provides for various types of standards for stationary and mobile sources, but there are no state automatic air monitoring stations that would work online and accumulate data in a single digital format and in real time. 

Currently, air quality in Ukraine is checked only by public monitoring systems (SaveEcoBot, СityScale, EcoCity, LUN City Air, EcoInfo services) - there are about 400 such stations in the country. At the same time, according to the CEE Bankwatch report "The Impact of Ukraine's Energy Sector on Air Quality", air pollution in Ukraine is the cause of the largest number of premature deaths among all countries on the continent. 

In July 2022, the Law of Ukraine "On the Protection of Atmospheric Air" was changed, in particular, in Article 10, which concerns the obligations of business entities to protect atmospheric air. Now, all enterprises whose activities are related to the emission of pollutants are obliged to ensure the implementation of periodic and/or automated instrumental and laboratory measurements of air quality, keep daily records of the operating time of emission sources and equip sampling sites. 

Control over the compliance of enterprises with environmental legislation is an important step to make the air in Ukraine cleaner.

Air quality monitoring with the Menatir system designed by Culver Aviation

One of the types of payloads of the Aerial Monitoring UAV Network Menatir is the Libelium Smart Environment PRO ecosensor, which is a valuable environmental monitoring tool and can analyze air conditions at different altitudes. This model allows to implement projects in the field of environmental pollution control, air quality, industry and agriculture with high requirements for accuracy, reliability and measurement range. 

“The advantage of MENATIR for environmental services and inspections is the ability not only to monitor the state of atmospheric air for compliance with specified standards, but also to directly identify sources of pollution”,

Yevheniy Shamalo, CTO of Culver Aviation.

MENATIR can be used to analyze air at an altitude of up to 2,000 meters above the ground. Thanks to the support of an external GPS module, the software analyzes geo-referenced gas concentration data and determines the movement of air pollutants.

MENATIR, equipped with the Libelium eco-sensor, can check the air for pollution with substances such as CO, CO2, O3, NO, NO2, SO2, NH3, CH4, H2S, PM2.5 and PM10, while it is possible to simultaneously measure the concentration of dust and up to 3 gaseous substances. The system also allows you to analyze temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure, using a separate combined sensor.

What else can the Menatir system be used for 

Automated Aerial Monitoring UAV Network Menatir allows companies and government institutions to receive and process information from the Earth's surface without human intervention in real time 24/7/365. It is a source of reliable data for solving the problems of a number of departments - fire, road, environmental, municipal, infrastructure and others.

Besides air quality monitoring, MENATIR can also be used to perform a variety of tasks - in real time according to a planned schedule or on request: 

  • video surveillance of any objects in real time;
  • aerial photography in HD quality to create orthophotomaps of the area;
  • monitoring the condition of crops, forests, water bodies;
  • prevention of landscape fires, etc.

More about the possibilities of other types of payloads of the system read in our next materials, and more about Menatir can be found here.

Environmental safety and sustainable development

Careful and continuous monitoring of air quality is a necessary component of ensuring environmental safety of the population and sustainable development of society. 

It may seem that now is not the right time to optimize the environmental monitoring system, but the war does not cancel the right of the population to breathe fresh air. In any case, the creation of an effective environmental monitoring system in the country is not a one-day process, and it is necessary to take concrete measures by both the government and business today. And we are sure that MENATIR will contribute to the sustainable development of not only Ukraine but also other countries of the world.