International comparison of urban air quality indicators: data sources and methods, chapter 3
3.1 Data source
The ambient levels of air pollutant data used for the international comparison were obtained from many different databases.
- Sydney data were taken from the Office of Environment and Heritage of New South Wales, Australia's Air Quality Data Search.
- Perth data prior to 2012 were retrieved from the Department of Environment and Conservation of Western Australia's Western Australia Air Monitoring Report 2009 (PDF; 2.3 MB), Western Australia Air Monitoring Report 2010 (PDF; 2.3 MB) and Western Australia Air Monitoring Report 2011 (PDF; 1.8 MB). Data for 2012 and more recent years were taken from the Department of Environment Regulation of Western Australia's Air monitoring reports.
- Hong Kong data were obtained from the Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong's webtool Air Quality Data - Download by Parameter.
The guidelines for the air pollutants used in the international comparison were obtained from the World Health Organization's document entitled Air Quality Guidelines Global Update 2005. Particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.
3.2 Spatial coverage
Ambient air levels in urban areas in Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia, and China are compared in these indicators. For the purpose of these indicators, an urban area is a city, group of cities (metropolitan area) or region with a population greater than one million. More specifically, an urban area corresponds to the census metropolitan area for Canadian cities. For the United States, the metropolitan statistical areas were used. For the European countries different urban areas corresponding to the areas covered by the available monitoring stations were used. Three different urban areas were considered: urban area, large urban zone and core city (or greater city). For Australian cities, the greater capital city statistical area was used. The Hong Kong Special Administrative region was used for Hong Kong.
3.3 Temporal coverage
The indicators were calculated with concentrations measured from 2009 to 2014. All data are measured hourly and provided as hourly, daily or annual values depending on the web tools available from each country.
3.4 Data completeness
For any given ozone or fine particulate matter monitoring station used in the calculation of pollutant concentrations for a particular urban area, measurements covering at least 75% of the year were required.
A sulphur dioxide or nitrogen dioxide monitoring station was used in the calculation of concentrations for an urban area only if the data available meets the following conditions:
- A valid month requires that at least 50% of the hours have valid measurements;
- A valid quarter (three months) requires data for at least two valid months; and
- A station is included only if 50% of hours in year are valid and has four valid quarters.
3.5 Data timeliness
The gap between a given year and publication of air pollutant concentration data for that year varies considerably among urban areas. For some urban areas, annual data is publicly available within a few months of a reported year while for others, data validation takes longer. The year 2014 was selected as the latest year of data to accommodate the variation in data timelines.
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