Air Pollution 2015

23rd International Conference on Modelling, Monitoring and Management of Air Pollution


1 - 3 June 2015
Valè€ncia, Spain


Air Pollution 2015

The 23rd International Conference on Modelling, Monitoring and Management of Air Pollution was held in Valencia, Spain, organised by the Polytechnic University of Valencia, represented by Prof Carmen Capilla, the University of the West of England, represented by Prof James Longhurst and Dr Joanna Barnes, and the Wessex Institute, also of the UK, represented by Prof Carlos A Brebbia.

The conference has a long and distinguished history, having started in Monterrey, Mexico in 1993, and more recently in Siena, Italy in 2013 and Opatija, Croatia in 2014. The meetings have attracted outstanding contributions from leading researchers and practitioners from around the world. The papers selected for publication and inclusion in the conference book have also been permanently stored in the Institute’s eLibrary as WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment ( These collected papers provide an important record of the development of science and policy pertaining to air pollution.

The Modelling, Monitoring and Management of Air Pollution series of conferences has attracted a global audience of academics and air pollution practitioners who contribute to the evolving understanding of the relevant sciences and policies presented at the meetings. The series has discussed important air pollution issues at international, national and local levels and, by nature of the diverse background of the delegates, has brought to the discussions a unique scale of perspective.

The subject of this conference series could not be more relevant and significant. In the last year, the World Heritage Organisation has identified air pollution as the world’s largest single environmental health risk, with around 7 million people dying annually – one in seven of the total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure, more than doubling the previous estimates. They also found that while 3.7 million deaths were attributable to outdoor (ambient) air pollution, more than half, ie 4.3 million deaths, were due to indoor sources, both mainly affecting low and middle-income households. They also examined PM monitoring data from 1600 cities around the world and found that although Delhi has the highest PM10 concentration overall in the period 2008-2012, the area classed by the WHO as Eastern Mediterranean was the most affected region. New and emerging epidemiological studies have also revealed that the main health effect of air pollution is cardiovascular (heart disease and stroke) and that ambient air pollution is now a Class 1 carcinogen, equivalent to tobacco smoke.

With more than half of the world’s population now inhabiting cities, it is alarming to note that only 12% of those reporting on air quality reside in cities compliant with the WHO air quality guideline levels. About half of the urban population, where air pollution is monitored, is exposed to air pollution at least 2.5 times higher than the WHO recommendations. Furthermore, in most cities where there is sufficient data to compare by town trends, air pollution is getting worse due to an increasing reliance on fossil fuels in power plants, dependence on private transport motor vehicles, inefficient use of energy in buildings, and the use of biomass for cooking and heating.

The complexity of air pollution matters cannot be underestimated. This complexity has profound effects for management, with examples of policies to reduce carbon emissions having detrimental effects on local air pollution, such as encouraging the use of diesel fuels in the UK. This, together with the transboundary effects of long-range and precursor pollutants, places a significant burden on governments to reduce the impact of their activities on public and environmental health, not only domestically but globally.

Public and media attention has also been captured; in part by the WHO’s figures and the increasingly common spectacle of visible smog. This data stresses the importance of this conference series which shows that the management of air pollution is one of the most challenging problems facing the international community.

The Conference acknowledges a wide range of air pollution issues and challenges, but a particular strength has been the attention given to regulatory and , more recently, market studies to air pollution management.

The scientific knowledge derived from well-designed studies needs to be allied with further technical and economic studies in order to ensure cost effective and efficient mitigation. In turn the science, technology and economic outcomes are necessary but not sufficient. The outcome of such research needs to be contextualised within well formulated communication strategies with the help of policy makers and all stakeholders to understand and appreciate the risks and rewards arising from air pollution management.

 Opening of the Conference

The Conference was opened by Carlos who explained the importance of the meeting series to the Wessex Institute (WIT), whose objective is to facilitate the transfer of knowledge at international level.

The other activities of WIT are research, services to industry and publications. WIT Press is the publishing arm of the Institute and not only produces the Conference proceedings, but a wide variety of other books. The objective is also to continue launching International Journals in interdisciplinary topics not properly covered by other publications.

Support to industry in the form of software tools based on well-founded research is of primary importance for WIT – Carlos explained – as it helps to achieve transfer of technology, as well as demonstrate the relevance of WIT’s work. The current fields of interest are in the mechanical, aerospace and energy industries, where the demand for advanced software is more prominent.

Carlos stressed that the activities of the Institute are based on its interaction with industry, responding always to its needs. Over the years this has been the source of strength for the research carried out at WIT.

Carlos ended his welcoming remarks by hoping that the delegates will not only continue to attend the WIT series of conferences, but also consider collaborating with the Institute in other ways, including joint projects. He also invited them to visit the WIT Campus in the New Forest National Park, so that they can appreciate better the work of the Institute and find ways of working together.

 Keynote Speakers

Prof James Longhurst, Co-Chair of the Conference and Executive Director of the Air Quality Management Centre at the University of the West of England, gave a challenging address on the topic of Air Quality from an historical point of view.

In the middle of the XVII century – James said - John Evelyn already wrote on the issue of Air Pollution in England and on how to mitigate it. His work did not help to reduce the effect of the industrial revolution on pollution in XIX century. Only the famous London Smog of 1952 was a major catastrophe leading to some action being taken due to its magnitude and the number of deaths.

Air Pollution has been a long term partner in our development. This invokes our relationship with hydrocarbons; coal in the past, gas and oil at present. It seems necessary that a catastrophe occurs for the authorities - prompted by public clamour - to lead to a change. The regulations required is always slowed down by society inertia and vested interests.

Jim’s keynote address was an excellent introduction to the conference, which is aimed to solve the pressing air pollution problems threatening the future of modern society.

The conference brought together contributions from scientists from around the world who presented recent research on various aspects of air pollution phenomena. Notable in each of the conferences in the series has been the opportunities the meetings offered for collaboration amongst scientists and between scientists, practitioners and policy makers.

The Polytechnic University of Valencia arranged for a special organ concert to take place during one of the evenings. The concert was held in the Jesuit Church located in the old town. The Church dates from the XVIII century, fronting the most important heritage building in Valencia, the famous medieval Lonja.

The organ has 5000 pipes and four keyboards which make it a unique instrument, in so far as it can mimic different types of European organs and hence it can play a wide repertoire.

The organist was Arturo Basa Sevillano who completed his studies in many different European institutions. He is a Professor in the Valencia Conservatory, as well as a qualified architect. He has played in numerous locations and has carried out research in the European music of the XVI and XVII centuries.

His recital included pieces by Cabanilles (1644-1712); Bach (1685-1750); Bruna (1611-1679); Zipoli (1688-1726) and ended with music by Boellmann (1862-1897). The high standard of his performance were most appreciated by the audience.

 Invited Presentations

There were a series of keynote addresses and invited papers during the conference delivered by well-known researchers:

“Urban air quality in historical perspective – or why we fail to learn the lessons of history”, by James Longhurst, University of the West of England, UK.

“Urban vulnerability and resilience to climate change”, by Myriam Lopes, University of Aveiro, Portugal.

“Application of radial basis functions compared to neural networks”, by Carmen Capilla, Polytechnic University of Valencia.

“Passive optoelectronics systems for standoff gas detection: results of tests”, by Mariusz Kastek, Military University of Technology, Poland.

“Has UK local government action improved local air quality?” by Joanna Barnes, University of the West of England, UK

“Impacts of agricultural waste burning on the enhancement of PM2 5-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in northern Thailand”, by Siwatt Pongpiachan, National Institute of Development Administration, Thailand.

“Control of the concentration of Radon in the air of the Underground tunnels of Sidra Ltd”, by Francisco Patania, University of Catania, Italy.

 Conference Topics

The papers presented at the conference were classified under a series of topics, as follows:

  • Air pollution modelling
  • Monitoring and measuring
  • Air quality management
  • Air pollution chemistry
  • Exposure and health effects
  • Aerosols and particles
  • Indoor air pollution
  • Policy studies
  • Case studies

 Conference Dinner

The International Scientific Advisory Committee met over dinner to discuss ways in which the conference can be improved when it is reconvened. New topics were proposed to reflect the ever evolving field of air pollution research and applications. Several possible locations were to be investigated by the Conference Division of WIT, to find places which are convenient to reach for the largest possible number of delegates.

The Conference banquet took place in the unusual setting of the Aquarium restaurant, located under a distinctive hyperbolic paraboloid structure built by Felix Candela. The glass walls of the restaurant are part of the Aquarium itself and a continuous stream of fish swims constantly along. The excellent food was accompanied by good local wines creating a convivial atmosphere.

The restaurant was located near the hotel from where the delegates proceeded, alongside renowned new buildings, including two famous Calatrava buildings, ie the Museum of Science and Technology and the Agora. The pleasant walk added to the attraction of the event.

12th Prigogine Gold Medal

The delegates were welcomed by Prof Mora Mas who referred to the importance of the award and his University being honoured by the event taking place at the Valencia Polytechnic. He also thanked Prof Carlos A Brebbia for the opportunity to know Prof Larry Li from the University of California, Riverside, USA.

Prof Brebbia then explained the importance of the award.

The Prigogine Medal was established in 2004 by the University of Siena and the Wessex Institute to honour the memory of Prof Ilya Prigogine, Nobel Prize winner for chemistry. Ilya Prigogine was born in Moscow in 1917, and obtained his undergraduate and graduate education in Chemistry at the Free University in Brussels.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to non-equilibrium thermodynamics, particularly the theory of dissipative structures. The main theme of his scientific work was the role of time in the physical sciences and biology. He contributed significantly to the understanding of irreversible processes, particularly in systems far from equilibrium.

The results of his work have had profound consequences for understanding biological and ecological systems. Prigogine’s ideas established the basis of ecological systems research. The Prigogine medal to honour his memory is awarded annually to a leading scientist in the field of ecological systems. All recipients have been deeply influenced by the work of Prigogine.

Previous Prigogine Laureates were:

  • 2004 Sven Jorgensen, Denmark
  • 2005 Enzo Tiezzi, Italy
  • 2006 Bernard Patten, USA
  • 2007 Robert Ulanowicz, USA
  • 2008 Ioannis Antoniou, Greece
  • 2009 Emilio Del Giudice, Italy
  • 2010 Felix Müller, Germany
  • 2011 Larissa Brizhik, Ukraine
  • 2012 Gerald Pollack, USA
  • 2013 Vladimir Voeikov, Russia
  • 2014 Mae-Wan Ho, UK

The 2015 Medal was awarded to Bai-Lian Larry Li, Professor at the University of California, USA.

B Larry Li is Professor of Ecology and Director of three research centres at the University of California, Riverside, ie the International Centre for Ecology and Sustainability, the International Centre for Arid Land Ecology, and the US Department of Agriculture – China Joint Research Centre for Agroecology and Sustainability.

Professor Li has a broad inter-disciplinary background and experience in mathematical, statistical and computational modelling applications in ecological studies. Professor Li is a Fellow of the Institute for Human Ecology, USA; Chair Professor of the Chinese Academy of Science, Honorary Professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, among other important recognitions.

He currently presides over the Eco-Summit Foundation and is a member of NSF Scientific Panels. He has been the founder and editor of the prestigious International Journal on Ecological Complexity and the Journal of Arid Land. He organised many symposia and courses with other institutions, including the Max-Planck and Santa Fe institutes.

Prof Li has worked on a wide variety of ecological projects including recent involvement in energetic and thermodynamic ecological systems and restoration of ecological patterns for formations and long-term ecological research in the USA and internationally.

He has published more than 200 refereed journal articles, and numerous conference papers, in addition to 30 book chapters and eight books or edited special issues.

Following these introductory remarks, Professor Mora Mas awarded the Medal to Professor Li and invited him to give his Prigogine lecture entitled “Towards an energetically and thermodynamically-sounded approach to ecological complexity, modelling and sustainability”.

B Larry Li started his inaugural address with the following introduction:

“Life is based on cycling of matter and consumption of energy. The spatial and temporal scales of these processes transcend from the micro-world, where living cells meet their energetic demand with nutrients diffusing through the cell wall, to the planetary scale, where continental vegetation cover and oceanic biota profoundly impact the global cycles of life essentials like water and carbon. On the basis of a holistic systems view and Prigogine and Haken’s theories, my research has been focusing on addressing the following key questions: How do biological and ecological systems self-organize? What are the origins and mechanisms of emergence of scaling from individual to landscape levels (especially on emergence of dynamic scaling)? And what are the physical bases of non-equilibrium biological and ecological systems? I use mathematical, statistical, and computational modelling approaches as a way of exploring and answering these questions. These modelling approaches help identify general principles and basic mechanisms governing emerging properties of biological and ecological systems at multiple temporal and spatial scales based on energetic, thermodynamic and information considerations and allow us to have better understanding and modelling of ecological complexity, services and sustainability.

“One of my earliest English papers entitled ‘Pansystems analysis: a new approach to ecosystem modelling’ was published in Ecological Modelling in 1986. In that paper, I proposed a new pansystems approach to study complex and strongly interacting dynamic processes in ecological system, ie the social-economic-natural complex ecosystems, and a rough framework of ecological complexity – modelling complex or large-scale ecosystems. This work, to large extent, reflected in part of my earlier views to apply Prigogine’s far-from equilibrium thoughts to ecological systems.

“In this lecture, I will start with re-examination of the classic logistic equation in population ecology, from the energy conservation law. We found that there exists a conservation of energy relationship comprising the terms of available resource and population density, jointly interpreted here as total available vital energy in a confined environment. We showed that this relationship determines a density-dependent functional form of relative population growth rate and consequently the parametric equations are in the form depending upon the population density, resource concentration, and time. Thus, the derived form of relative population growth rate is essentially a feedback type, ie updating parametric values for the corresponding population density. This resource dynamics-based feedback approach has been implemented for formulating variable carrying capacity in a confined environment. Particularly, at a constant resource replenishment rate, a density-dependent population growth equation similar to the classic logistic equation is derived, while one of the regulating factors of the underlying resource dynamics is that the resource consumption rate is directly proportional to the resource concentration.

“Secondly, I will talk about energetic and thermodynamic foundation of ecological systems. A fundamental but unanswered biological question asks how much energy, on average, Earth’s different life forms spend per unit mass per unit time to remain alive. Here, using the largest database to date, for 3006 species that includes most of the range of biological diversity on the planet – from bacteria to elephants, and algae to sapling trees – we show that metabolism displays a striking degree of homeostasis across all of life. We demonstrate that, despite the enormous biochemical, physiological, and ecological differences between the surveyed species that vary over 1020-fold in body mass, mean metabolic rates of major taxonomic groups displayed at physiological rest converge on a narrow range from 0.3 to 9 W kg-1. This 30-fold variation among life’s disparate forms represents a remarkably small range compared with the 4000 to 65000-fold difference between the mean metabolic rates of the smallest and largest organisms that would be observed if life as a whole conformed to universal quarter power or third-power allometric scaling laws. The observed broad convergence on a narrow range of basal metabolic rates suggests that organismal designs that fit in this physiological window have been favoured by natural selection across all of life’s major kingdoms, and that this range might therefore be considered as optimal for living matter as a whole.

“Thirdly, I will show how we can use this foundation to scaling up, from primary producers to primary consumers, to second consumers, and so on in ecological networks. This approach opens a new view to re-examine species diversity-stability-productivity relationships in ecological systems.

“Fourthly, I will examine the emergence of scaling properties and self-organisations in ecological systems, such as species-area curve, self-thinning law, etc. My talk will also include applications of this framework to study ecotone phase transitions, biological invasion, scaling from genomes to ecosystems and global change biology.

“Based on my own study and near 35 years working experience in this field, I have been so much inspired by Prof Ilya Prigogine’s works and his thoughts. I met him in person only once, in 1992 Chaos Conference at Texas A&M University, College Station, USA; I showed him how I used his theory: nonlinear Markov non-equilibrium thermodynamic stability theory to study ecological phase transitions and predict the tree-grass dynamics of savannah in southern Texas landscapes. I believe that his work and view will continue to inspire new generations of ecologists to study not only fundamental issues of ecology but also applied ecological problems in conservation biology, biological invasion, restoration ecology, ecological monitoring and assessment, global change, and sustainable development.”

Prof Li’s excellent presentation was followed with great interest by all participants. He demonstrates a command of many disciplines, such as mathematics, statistics, computational mechanics, in addition to biology and ecosystems. His address gave a comprehensive picture of the diverse ecosystems behaviour and the importance of understanding them to achieve sustainability.

 Closing of the Conference

Prof Mora Mas closed the event and invited all participants to drinks and tapas as refreshment before the participants went back to the conference venue.

The next conference will take place in Crete from 20-22 June 2016.

 Conference Proceedings

The proceedings of Air Pollution 2015 - Air Pollution XXIII, 466pp (Print ISBN: 978-1-84564-964-7; eISBN: 978-1-84564-965-4) are available from WIT Press. Orders can be placed on the WIT Press web site at or by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., telephone: +44 (0) 238 029 3223 or fax: +44 (0) 238 029 2853.

Papers from the conference will also be hosted online at the WIT eLibrary in Volume 198 of WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment (ISSN: 1746-448X Digital ISSN: 1743-3541). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at

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