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‌The CAPACITIE Project

Who we are

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CAPACITIE is a Marie Curie Initial Training Network, funded by the European Commission within the 7th Framework Programme. The project consists of 16 partner organisations, in addition to the University of York, which is the coordinating and host organisation for the duration of the project. The associate and partner organisations span the industrial, regulatory, consultancy, research and governmental sectors. CAPACITIE includes 12 PhD projects. Each of the projects is related to addressing a variety of issues linked to pollution monitoring in cities. The PhD projects span several disciplines related to the monitoring of pollutants and the development of new technologies for pollution monitoring. The Environment Department is the host department for the project, with the Chemistry, Electronics, Sociology, Computer Science and Physics departments also hosting CAPACITIE PhD students. The CAPACITIE Project is a YESI (York Environmental Sustainability Institute) featured project. YESI aims to develop novel interdisciplinary projects between different departments across the University of York and a wide variety of diverse external organisations and partners.

CAPACITIE Project

‌More than half of the world’s population lives in cities and nearly two billion extra urban residents are expected in the next 20 years. Many of the fastest growing cities in the world are highly polluted, resulting in adverse effects on human health. Urban pollution can also impact the health of the natural environment which will affect the delivery of a range of ecosystem services. There is therefore an urgent need to better understand the factors and processes affecting the pollution of cities and the potential negative impacts of this on human health and the environment. To achieve this, improved approaches for monitoring different forms of pollution (air, water, noise) are needed.

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The CAPACITIE Project will explore a wide range of technologies for pollution monitoring, including: mobile phones; passive sampling devices; miniaturised sensing devices; robotics; and state-of-the-art analytical techniques (such as time of flight mass spectrometry). These technologies provide a number of advantages over current monitoring methods in that they allow us to:

  1. Quantify levels of pollution at greater frequencies and spatial resolutions than is currently possible;
  2. Monitor locations that in the past have been difficult to sample (e.g. hostile environments or systems with accessibility issues); and
  3. Characterise human and ecological exposure to the plethora of chemicals that have never been monitored before.

Effective application of the different technologies will provide a much better understanding of the degree of exposure of humans and wildlife to pollutants and hence the risks of these pollutants to ecosystem and human health. The technologies could also be used to inform mitigation measures both in the short term and over longer timescales.

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Deliverables

The CAPACITIE Project will produce a new generation of researchers that not only have the skills to develop and apply cutting-edge technologies to monitor pollutants in the natural environment, but also have a detailed understanding of the needs of end users of monitoring data (such as governments, regulators and local authorities) and of the social and ethical issues around the adoption and use of selected technologies (such as safety, generation of sensitive data and information security).

To deliver the above aim, a cohort of early stage researchers (ESRs) will work on a series of research projects addressing different aspects of pollutant monitoring in city environments. The city environment has been identified as the case study for the project as cities are: under pressure from a wide range of pollutant pressures; are likely to show large variability in pollutant levels over short scales of time and space; can include many areas that are inhospitable and inaccessible; and encompass a range of environmental media types. While the focus of CAPACITIE is on city environments, the techniques, technologies and skills delivered through this programme are highly generic and transferrable to range of environmental monitoring challenges.

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