EANET Regional Awareness Workshop in 2023: A focus on Volatile Organic Compounds and Low-Cost Sensors

13 June 2023 – Bangkok, Thailand

The EANET Regional Awareness Workshop in 2023 focused on the growing concerns surrounding Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and the use of Low-Cost Sensors (LCS) for air quality monitoring in Northeast and Southeast Asia. Held on 30 May 2023 at the United Nations Convention Center and online, it aimed to foster collaboration on air quality management, address global challenges related to VOC pollution, and discuss the potential of LCS technology. The Workshop was held as part of the Climate and Clean Air Conference: Air Quality Action Week, organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), and in cooperation with the Asian Institute of Technology, Regional Resource Centre for Asia and the Pacific (RRC.AP). 129 participants from 15 countries joined the Workshop.


Enhancing Air Quality Monitoring and Collaboration in East and Southeast Asia

Ms. Marlene Nilsson, Deputy Regional Director of UNEP Asia Pacific office, opened the EANET Awareness Workshop by delivering remarks highlighting the importance of alliances such as EANET to build regional solutions through data sharing and collaboration.


Volatile Organic Compounds Pollution Challenges and Air Quality Regulations in Asia

The first Session focused on the importance and challenges of VOC measurement in East and Southeast Asia. Presenters and panelists included Prof. Meng Fan, DDG for EANET, Asia Center for Air Pollution (ACAP), Dr. Meihua Zhu, Senior Researcher, Asia Center for Air Pollution (ACAP), Prof. Hong Li, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAES), China, Dr. Kessinee Unapumnak, Pollution Control Department (PCD), Thailand and Mr. Jundy T. Del Socorro, Environment Management Bureau (EMB), The Philippines.


View the recording of Dr. Kessinee Unapumnak’s presentation on Thailand’s Air Quality Management Framework


VOCs have emerged as a significant pollutant in Asia, posing challenges due to rising levels and diverse emission sources and chemical compositions. While Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Thailand have ambient VOC standards, other countries do not have such standards or guidelines. This is why the project Promoting VOCs related Capacity Building in the EANET, supported by the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ) has been developed and launched in 2023, through the EANET Project Fund. Planned to last three years, the project is the fruit of cooperation between the MOEJ, the Network Center for the EANET, and different government and research institutes from China, Japan, Mongolia, and the Philippines, also including experts from the Republic of Korea and Thailand.


Low-Cost Sensor Technology for Air Quality Monitoring: Integration Efforts and Need for Reliability

The second Session focused on Low-Cost Sensors’ (LCS) Role in Air Quality Management in East and Southeast Asia. Presenters and panelists included Dr. Akie Yuba, Researcher, Asia Center for Air Pollution (ACAP), Prof. Kim Oanh, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Dr. Le Ngoc Cau, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate Change (IMHEN), Viet Nam, Ms. Dang Espita-Casanova, Clean Air Asia, and Ms. Karine Léger, Airparif, France.


View the recording of Ms. Dang Espita-Casanova’s presentation on Hybrid air quality monitoring: Achieving air quality goals in Philippine Cities


Discussions highlighted the potential and limitations of Low-cost sensor (LCS) technology. LCS is a portable and relatively cheaper monitoring system used for air quality monitoring, but challenges remain regarding data accuracy, calibration, and maintenance. LCS data can be valuable for non-regulatory monitoring applications and are powerful awareness-raising tools for citizen science. Efforts are being made to integrate LCS with reference-level sensors through projects like the EANET’s Hybrid Air Quality Monitoring Network (HAQMN) in Asia, in Viet Nam specifically, and guidelines are being developed to replicate this integration in other countries. LCS deployments have been conducted in the Philippines to fill coverage gaps, requiring local calibration and integration with conventional sensors. LCS are seen as complementary to traditional sensors, providing better coverage and valuable data for policymakers. Standardization, calibration, and integration need further attention to ensure the reliability of LCS for various purposes.


Key Recommendations

The workshop panelists discussed several key recommendations. Firstly, they suggested conducting research to establish VOC Air Quality Guideline Values and Standards by monitoring, reporting, and analyzing emission sources. Secondly, they emphasized the need to strengthen research on VOCs’ impact on air quality and human health. Additionally, they proposed developing guidelines, standards, and policies for the use of LCS (low-cost sensors) and promoting research on calibration, correction factors, and quality assurance to ensure reliable LCS data. They also recommended creating guidelines for integrating LCS with existing monitoring networks to ensure data reliability. Lastly, they highlighted the importance of establishing regional and international platforms for sharing knowledge and best practices related to LCS.

Dr. Shiro Hatakeyama, DG, Asia Center for Air Pollution (ACAP) delivered the Closing Remarks and emphasized the importance of VOC monitoring, VOCs being the precursors of ozone and particulate matter. He highlighted the importance to expand the EANET’s monitoring network to include VOCs and mentioned LCS could be considered for this expansion if their reliability can be strengthened.


Useful Resources
  • Read a more detailed summary of the Workshop’s content in the EANET Awareness Workshop in 2023 Event Report.
  • View all Workshop’s recordings on the Secretariat for the EANET’s YouTube channel and the Workshop’s photos on Flickr.
  • Download the speakers’ presentations:

Two Decades of EANET: From Data to Policy by Prof. Meng Fan, ACAP

Understanding VOCs Impact in East Asia: Building Tools and Capacity for Better Air Quality Management by Dr. Meihua Zhu, ACAP

Management and Control of Anthropogenic VOCs in China by Prof. Hong Li, CRAES, China

Thailand’s Air Quality Management Framework by Dr. Kessinee Unapumnak, PCD, Thailand.

Air Quality Management in the Philippines, Mr. Jundy Del Socorro, EMB, the Philippines.

Introduction to Low-Cost Sensors (LCS) by Dr. Akie Yuba, ACAP

Air Quality Management in Viet Nam by Dr. Le Ngoc Cau, MONRE, Viet Nam

Hybrid air quality monitoring: Achieving air quality goals in Philippine Cities by Ms. Dang Espita-Casanova, Clean Air Asia.

Air Pollution Monitoring and LCS in France by Ms. Karine Léger, Airparif, France.


Photo credits: all rights reserved to EANET.