Christian Saravia is a local actor interviewed for the EPIC report ‘The Case for Closing Global Air Quality Data Gaps with Local Actors: A Golden Opportunity for the Philanthropic Community.‘ They are otherwise unassociated with EPIC.

Christian founded Ambente in 2019 with a curiosity to fill the air quality data gaps in Guatemala. What started as a social and scientific project has today resulted into a network of 10 real-time low-cost sensors across Guatemala City.

As a researcher, Christian is constantly seeking solutions and he does so using various tools and technology available at his disposal. A notable example is his utilization of satellite data, low-cost sensor data, and modelling to assess air quality in Guatemala. This analysis in 2020 led to intriguing findings in a city where forest fires were presumed to be a major contributor.

Data from the Copernicus Emergency Management Service, 2019 indicated a slight improvement in the number of forest fires and hectares lost. However, low-cost data showed an initial decrease in PM2.5 levels in Mar 2020 followed by a subsequent increase in the following months. So, the question arose: what was causing PM2.5 levels to increase? An analysis of NOAA HYSPLIT aerosol particle regressive trajectories revealed that emissions primarily originated in the southern and northern regions which are primarily agricultural lands. Additionally, an unexpected surge in emissions from agricultural fires in Honduras resulted in transboundary pollution. This analysis highlighted the agricultural fires as a significant contributor of air pollution.

The significant lack of policies and guidelines is due lack of a robust air quality monitoring network and information system, and a communication gap between the scientific community and the government. To address this, in addition to monitoring air quality using methods like gravimetry, light dispersion and aerosol optic depth, Christian is presently pursuing opportunities to develop a real-time air quality information platform and stakeholder engagement (meetings/ training sessions/ workshops) to build capacities.