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Using a UAV to assess air pollution and identify dominant emission sources
 
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Institute of Energy and Fuel Processing Technology
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Centre ENET—Energy Units for Utilization of Non-Traditional Energy Sources, VŠB—Technical University of Ostrava
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VŠB—Technical University of Ostrava
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Department of Electronics, VŠB—Technical University of Ostrava, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR
Rafał Bigda   

Institute of Energy and Fuel Processing Technology
 
J. Ecol. Eng. 2022; 23(12)
 
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ABSTRACT
Central Europe is the region with the highest concentration of particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter less than 10 micrometers (PM10) in outdoor air. Weather conditions combined with a high industrialization of regions laying along the Czech Republic and Poland border influence the formation of long smog episodes with PM10 concentrations in the atmosphere at the value of several hundred micrograms in a cubic meter. However, it has been observed that the main source of particulates pollution in the area of the Polish-Czech border between the most populated areas of Ostrava and Katowice is the residential heating fired with solid fuels, participating at the level of not less than 21% in overall air contamination with dusts. It particularly concerns PM10, which is one of the major harmful air pollutants produced by the combustion of solid fuels such as biomass and coal. The measures leading to decrease the dust emission from coal burned individual heat sources include methods to eliminate old-type boilers not permitted by the law, as well as illegal incineration of fuels of bad quality or including admixture of wastes. It requires a new approach for effective identification of such sources, as well as for recognition of pollutants leaving household emitters and evaluation of their share in overall effect on human health. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with miniaturized sensors detecting gaseous and dust particles at the outlet of an individual emitter can compensate the lack of information unable to be obtain using traditional measurements. The use of UAVs to identify specific sources of air pollution is still at an early stage of development and there are not too many scientific publications on this topic so far. Despite it, this technology seems to be usable to create undemanding, low-cost and effective method of air pollution sources assessment. In the current article, some aspects of using UAVs for identification of especially troublesome emission sources located on residential areas are presented, including finding the dominant emission source, determining the optimal distance between a UAV and the emission source or the influence of the UAV altitude, movement and sampling time on measurement result.