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IAEA Thematic Planning Meeting on Monitoring Air Pollution
7-11 June 2004, Vienna, Austria

The purpose of a thematic planning meeting on monitoring air pollution is to develop a strategy on how the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) through its Regular and TC Programmes can contribute to improved human welfare within a cleaner environment, particularly in urban areas

Thematic Planning is a prescriptive planning tool for Technical Cooperation (TC) activities. The process seeks to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of a nuclear application relative to other non-nuclear technologies or conventional approaches, and to define the conditions in which it can best be applied. Often the choice of topics derives from successful outcomes of TC projects, ones that have demonstrated a significant contribution to national social and economic development goals in a given sector or thematic area. The process results in a Thematic Plan that complements the Country Programme Frameworks The CPF is a diagnostic planning tool used by the IAEA that provides a concise, demand-based frame of reference for technical cooperation with member states in the medium term (4-6 years). It utilizes the outcomes of Thematic Planning as a basis for pre-project planning and formulation for upcoming projects in the given country. (CPF) by providing a problem-based analysis that helps to ensure the relevance, impact and sustainability of technical cooperation between member states and the Agency.

The strategic value of a Thematic Plan lies in prioritizing technical applications and providing guidance for TC programming.

Problem Context
Air pollution is a global problem that affects countries in all geographical regions. Many countries are recognizing the need for improvement of air quality and moving to control emissions of pollutants. New data on the direct health impacts of air pollution indicate that the micrometer and sub micrometer-sized particles can increase morbidity and even mortality in urban dwellers. Through this growing worldwide recognition of the health effects associated with airborne particles, many countries have started to put in place policies and legislation for air pollution abatement, often with the assistance of international organizations and financial institutions.

Another important issue related to air pollution is its influence on the global climate. It has been shown that air particulate pollution leads to lower surface temperatures although there is need for further research to accurately estimate to what extent this effect might contribute to compensate for the well-known global warming phenomenon being attributed to gases such as carbon dioxide.

The IAEA Programme
The Asia and Pacific Region has taken the lead in addressing air pollution related problems through technical cooperation. Several projects have been initiated on better management of the environment, natural resources, and industrial growth through isotope and radiation technology. Fifteen RCA Member States (Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Viet Nam) constitute represent a core group of Member States interested inactively seeking to strengthen their capacities to monitoring air pollution. Activities include long-term sampling and analyses of particulate matter, expert evaluations to forecast the air pollution trends, training in chemometrics and black carbon analysis, demonstration activities using neutron activation analysis (NAA) and x-ray fluorescence (XRF) methods for multi-element analysis of airborne particulates and quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) for NAA and XRF in air pollution studies.

Other Member states in other geographical regions, including Africa, Europe and Latin America, are considering initiating similar TC projects on air pollution monitoring. A project formulation meeting was held in December 2003 in the Democratic Republic of Congo to initiate a new AFRA project for 2005-2009. These TC activities are supported by the Agency’s Regular Budget programmes (e.g., sub programmes H.4 and D.3 include some activities to support study of air pollution by using nuclear analytical techniques).

Through developing the Thematic Plan on Monitoring Air Pollution the Agency will be in a better position to demonstrate the advantages of nuclear analytical techniques applied in this field, and to better support planning and formulation of sound projects by Member States in the future efforts by national counterpart institutions to incorporate these techniques in pollution management/mitigation strategies. The Thematic Plan will also identify the areas where further research under RB programme is required (through CRP and/or IAEA Laboratories involvement).

The theme is important and strategic because of multiple Member States interest and relevance, global character of air pollution and a clear worldwide trend to improve monitoring of air pollution. In this context the nuclear analytical techniques pursuit by the IAEA offer unique opportunities to produce reliable multi-elemental data.

Expected Outputs

  • Programme guidance that clearly indicates the strategic role of nuclear analytical techniques in meeting data requirements of air quality and control managers.
  • Identify future areas of research related to air pollution relevant to monitoring the pollutants in terrestrial environment as well as development and/or refinement of analytical methodologies based on nuclear analytical techniques.
  • Identification of regional and or national institutions prepared and capable of providing leadership and to support less competent organisations.
  • Assessments of country conditions for CPF The CPF is a diagnostic planning tool used by the IAEA that provides a concise, demand-based frame of reference for technical cooperation with member states in the medium term (4-6 years). It utilizes the outcomes of Thematic Planning as a basis for pre-project planning and formulation for upcoming projects in the given country. discussions.
  • Pilot activities that can apply identified nuclear applications to monitoring air pollution problems designed as part of pre-project planning activities for the next TC Programme.
  • Agreement on follow-up tasks including: data collection, country assessments, feasibility activities, cost-benefit studies, joint-programming initiatives.

To learn more, go to

Go to the BAQ 2004 website
Go to
International Atomic Energy Agency

Secretariat: The World Bank & Asian Development Bank