The JOAQUIN Project

Supporting healthy air policies in Europe

The challenge

Air pollution is a major environmental health concern. The World Health Organisation estimates that air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths annually, with 400,000 in Europe alone.

While many studies are being done concerning ambient gases, more research is needed on other aspects of air pollution, and more awareness needs to be brought to policy makers surrounding how they affect life expectancy and human health.

The project in brief

The Joaquin project (Joint Air Quality Initiative) aimed to take a fresh look at air pollution in North-West Europe, and specifically at how ultrafine particles affect human health. First, by installing monitoring stations to measure air quality in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Leicester, the Joaquin project then used this information to pilot new projects concerning reducing exposure to harmful pollutants. 

The Joaquin project helped decision makers find specific solutions by identifying, piloting and evaluating the most efficient and cost-effective measures to reduce exposure to health relevant pollutants. It measured air quality and provided evidence to European policymakers about the levels of traditional and new air pollutants. It proposed measures that can be applied internationally and raised awareness to create a support base for a more relevant health prevention policy in the North-West Europe area.

The project provided key evidence to European policymakers about the levels of traditional and new air pollutants, building awareness and influencing policy. By looking at this issue from three angles: air pollution, air quality measures, and air quality communication, this project successfully captured key information in this field, developed tools to combat it, and influenced policy in this area.

We must address the problem of large-scale air pollution. Air pollution doesn’t stop at borders.

Christophe Stroobanks, Coordinator Joaquin project, Flemish Environment Agency

The impact

Communication campaigns and links to policy makers resulted in an improved relationship between the involved policy levels, stakeholder groups and the general public on the necessity of health relevant policies and clean air in day-to-day life. For example, a public campaign titled “Cleaner Air, Better Health” reached over 4,000 people. Videos like the one below improved public understanding of the risks of air pollution, motivating both children and adults.

Additionally, the results identified correlations between traffic volumes and peaks concentrations of ultrafine particles during the morning and evening rush hours. Using this information, the project piloted and evaluated measures to reduce exposure to harmful pollutants.

One of these was the creation of a low emission zone (an area where only vehicles with emissions below a certain limit are allowed to enter) in the city of Antwerp. This zone was inspired by similar initiatives in Amsterdam and London and is expected to reduce NO2 emissions by 9%. It is the first initiative of its kind in the region of Flanders and will be in place in 2017.

Since the close of the project Antwerp’s municipal air quality plan and Amsterdam’s Environmental policy (2015-2018) have used Joaquim’s data and have adopted its pollution reduction measures.



People reached with the campaign "Cleaner air, better health"


Number of cities involved in the air quality monitoring network

Amount of NO2 emissions reduced through the low-emission zone

JOAQUIN proposed measures that can be applied internationally and raised awareness for a more relevant health prevention policy.

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