ImpaCT.AR Science and Technology Program

Create the first combined air quality monitoring network with federal reference techniques and high precision with new low-cost technologies for the delivery of real-time data on a large scale in the province of Tucumán

ImpaCT.AR Science and Technology Program

Air quality is determined by the amount of pollutants present in it. When air quality is poor, that is, it has a high concentration of pollutants, people who breathe it can suffer different health problems and the effects due to chronic exposure are reflected by a reduction in life expectancy and an increase. of morbidity. The sources of air pollution can be due to various factors, including industrial activity, the burning of fossil fuels associated with the vehicle fleet, and the open burning of biomass associated with agricultural activities.

The problem of air pollution afflicts the entire planet and the most vulnerable countries are those with developing economies, given that they depend largely on their agricultural activities in which they carry out low-cost practices but with great consequences. for the population and the environment such as open burning of crops to harvest. A clear example is Tucumán, the province most affected each year by the open burning of biomass related, among other things, to the cultivation of sugar cane.


Air quality monitoring is essential when making evidence-based policy decisions, but systems that provide this type of information are scarce in developing countries given their high cost.

Under this context, the objective of this project was to build an economical, reliable and reproducible air monitoring system to contribute to the characterization of the predominant emission sources in the region: biomass burning and forest fires, automobile fleet, industrial activities. and domestic. The knowledge generated will allow not only to characterize the emission sources, but also to weigh their effects on health and the local ecosystem.

  • This project is carried out between the following institutions:
  • Atmospheric Studies Laboratory (LEA) belonging to INQUINOA – CONICET – UNT – Argentina
  • Comprehensive Center for Electron Microscopy (CIME) CONICET – UNT
  • University Laboratory of Chemistry and Air Pollution (LUQCA) – INFIQC – CONICET – UNC – Argentina
  • Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Research University of Wuppertal – Germany
  • The Institute of Combustion Aerothermal Reactivity and Environment
  • (ICARE) / CNRS, University of Orléans – France
  • Secretary of State for the Environment (SEMA) – Government of Tucumán

The materialization of the first air quality monitoring network will allow the values of particulate matter and carbon dioxide to be determined in principle at different strategic points in the province of Tucumán through the use of the real-time monitoring network made up of Integrated Modules of Environmental Sensors (MISA) of the Breathe2Change (B2C) initiative. Additionally, in the urban area of the capital of Tucumán, the levels of SO2, O3 (at the level of the troposphere) and NOX can be determined using federal reference sensors based on standard US-EPA methodology.

This information will then be rationalized by contrasting local environmental and climatological variables and uploaded to the free access web platform.

In the case of particulate matter study, with the assistance of technology such as SEM-EDS (Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometry) combined with qualitative and quantitative analysis by ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry) of its elemental chemical composition, it will allow for the characterization and inference of its origin and contribution to local pollution.

It is worth noting that throughout the entirety of the activities encompassing the proposed initiative, emphasis is placed on training various public actors from relevant institutions to ensure the functioning of this monitoring network at the conclusion of the current project.

This work plan will initiate a new line of research to be conducted at LEA, a laboratory recently built with funds from INQUINOA-CONICET-UNT, where the equipment received from the Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Research at the University of Wuppertal, Germany, and the Institute of Combustion Aerothermics Reactivity Environment of Orléans, France, is operated. This equipment includes EPA-certified Federal Reference Monitors for continuous air pollutant monitoring, among which are:

  • ENVIRONNEMENT Ozone Monitor, model O3 41M (two):
  • ENVIRONNEMENT Nitrogen Oxide Monitors, models AC 31M, AC 32M, and ECOPHYSICS, model ECO 770 AL:
  • ENVIRONNEMENT Sulfur Dioxide Monitors, models AF 21M and AF 22M:

Integrated Modules of Environmental Sensors (MISA):
The monitoring network design will be complemented by MISA, modules constructed by the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany in collaboration with the startup Neuer Weg and tested at the Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Research at the University of Wuppertal, as part of the Breathe2Change project (add link to the project) (B2C). MISA consists of portable modules housing an optical particle counter to detect particulate matter in the air (PM10, PM2.5, PM1), an NDIR sensor for carbon dioxide, a sensor for humidity/temperature/atmospheric pressure, and a GPS for data geolocation. An integrated microprocessor with Wi-Fi or GSM card connection allows real-time data transfer and storage generated by MISA to a cloud-based web platform. They also have the option to insert an external SD-card for storage. During the implementation of this objective, initially, 10 (ten) out of an estimated total of at least 20 MISA were installed and put into operation at strategic points to adequately cover the surface of the province of Tucumán. The network now comprises 29 modules throughout the province.

To systematically host the vast amount of data generated by this monitoring network, a web platform was developed where the data is stored and shared, both for scientific-academic use and for general civilian use.

It is noteworthy that all generated data is backed up on both third-party servers and those owned by the collaborating public organization.

Subsequently, a morphological and matrix characterization (carbonaceous or siliceous) of particulate matter will be carried out using SEM-EDS to infer its origin and seasonality.



Pneumonia // COPD // Cancer


Stroke // Alzheimer's // Cognitive impairment


Various heart diseases



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