The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Tonga Campus has agreed to collaborate on a research project on “Pasifika Air Quality and Environmental Health” with the University of New South Wales- Australia.
Parties from both universities met earlier this month at the USP Tonga Campus Satellite Room to begin work on the project that is being led by researchers Dr Andrew Dansie, Jimmy J Hilly, and Khadija Al Nabhani.
USP Tonga Campus Director Dr Robin Havea acknowledged Dr Francis Mani of the School of Agriculture, Geography, Environment, Ocean and Natural Sciences (SAGEONS) for introducing the team to them.
“It is a great opportunity to be part of this research project which is probably the first time for us here at Tonga Campus to be part of something with positive implications. The research is primarily on-air quality issues and they have chosen USP Tonga Campus as one of the research partners. It is a long-term project, and we are happy and so look forward to working with this team from UNSW,” Dr Havea added.
UNSW Academic Lead, Humanitarian Engineering specialising in wind-borne particle erosion, the biogeochemistry of dust and water management, Dr Andrew Dansie said the project aimed to increase data and information for decision-makers of the need for cleaner air in these regions and build capacity in-country to monitor air through direct sampling and measurement of aerosols.
Dr Andrew is being assisted by Jimmy J Hilly who is a PhD candidate currently researching air quality and health risks in Fiji and Solomon Islands focusing on air particulates.
Mr Hilly’s study aims to provide the scientific basis to inform policy in both Fiji and Solomon Islands to transition to cleaner energy sources.
Meanwhile, Khadija Al Nabhani who will also be assisting Dr Andrew is researching air quality by investigating long-range atmospheric transport of microplastics in the South Pacific. The project aims to find the amounts and types of plastics deposited in this region and where they originate from.
This project allows the USP Tonga campus to join the consortia of partners that are hosting equipment to monitor and sample air quality in the Pacific. The location of the USP Tonga campus provides an ideal location to look at rural air quality with regards to PM2.5 and human health impacts as well as long-range transport of microplastic particles and pollution from outside of the Pacific.