Skip to main content


Atmospheric pollution in cities is a major challenge for public health in both developed and developing countries. Adopting a thoroughly interdisciplinary approach, the MobilAir project aims to identify precise measures to reduce significantly atmospheric pollution in cities and its impacts.

Drawing on the considerable pluridisciplinary diversity of the Grenoble campus, MobilAir will develop an integrated approach in the urban area of Grenoble, which is a relevant pilot area. MobilAir will seek to develop methods and instruments which can be copied in other cities in France and in other countries. Stating our case in greater detail, MobilAir has the following key aims :

1) To better characterize a population’s exposure to pollution.

The links between oxidative potential (OP) and the chemical characteristics of particles, on the one hand, and children’s health on the other (respiratory health, growth, brain development, epigenetic traits) will be studied through individual measurements of a cohort of pregnant women, funded by the European Research Council. Their offspring will in turn be monitored. Development of a fine-mesh (100m) meteorological model will also contribute to improved modelling and hence forecasting of zones where pollution will stagnate.

2) To improve our understanding of the factors determining mobility behaviour,

The distribution of transport modes being one of the determinants of urban pollution. Ground-breaking interdisciplinary work involving economists specializing in transport and public health, geographers, sociologists and psychologists will give us a better grasp of psychological factors – such as perception, intention, altruism and social norms – over and above issues of cost and transit time (activity localization, urbanism …), in individual mobility choices. Study of the various forms of leverage for bringing about lasting changes in modes of mobility, shifting towards more active modes – notably walking and cycling – will include randomised experimentation involving several hundred households followed over a two-year period.

3) To assist public-sector decision-making.

Developing an interdisciplinary tool for policy appraisal will allow us to assess the measures deployed by local authorities in the Grenoble urban area between 2016 and 2019, and also more "theoretical" scenarios of measures. Appraisal will focus on travel patterns, traffic, the environment and public health as well as the economy, paving the way for France’s first cost-benefit analysis of measures combating pollution. Research will also address development of a reverse-modelling tool, allowing to identify the public measures on traffic and heating to achieve a given health or air quality objective.

Working in partnership with local government, the MobilAir project will combine modelling, environmental measurements, recurrent surveys of local residents, cohorts with their biobanks, study of impacts on public health, direct intervention on several hundred households, by a team of researchers. Each scientist will work on one or more issues related to air pollution (economists specializing in transport, the environment and public health, sociologists, behavioural psychologists, geographers, epidemiologists, specialists in modelling the atmosphere, interaction between transport modes and land usage). Never before has an interdisciplinary project on this scale studied atmospheric pollution, its origins and impacts, and the means to combat it. Potentially forming the basis of a future Institute on the Environment, Health and Society, MobilAir is a balanced project, set to yield ground-breaking scientific results and support to decision-making. Close partnerships will be established with six leading international research institutes to facilitate applications in long-term forecasting, and integration of pollution and climate-change science, as well as a durable basis for the project and hosting of foreign students.

Submitted on January 25, 2024

Updated on January 25, 2024