Air pollution causes health problems to humans as well as damage to historic buildings, monuments, and ecosystems. In 1979, the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTP) at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) in Geneva, Switzerland, was signed to address this threat. Degradation to materials in many world regions is much lower today mainly due to reductions in sulfur pollution; however, air pollution is still a problem but more complicated, where effects are the result of a multitude of harmful air pollutants. Effective strategies for reduction need to go side by side with strategies for dealing with climate change.
The successful International agreements (Protocols) within the CLRTP have been based on a good scientific understanding of the release, transport and harmful effects of air pollution. ICP Materials is one of several effect oriented International Co-operative Programmes (ICP) reporting to the Working Group on Effects, which provides the science for the policy process. Its aim is to perform a quantitative evaluation of multi-pollutant effects on atmospheric corrosion, including effects of sulphur pollutants in combination with NOx, ozone and other pollutants. Both technically important materials and materials used in historical and cultural monuments are involved.
Yale IPCH was recently designated by the US Environmental Protection Agency as an exposure site for materials testing and focal point for the United States in this international program. Exposure of the first materials is supposed to start in the fall of 2015. IPCH Director Stefan Simon was representing the Institute at the 31st Meeting of the ICP Materials Programme Task Force, which took place on 22-24 April 2015 at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) in Kjeller, Norway.