As low-cost sensor technology advances, state agencies are able to provide more complete air quality monitoring data by expanding their monitoring networks economically and efficiently.
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Commissioner Martin Suuberg marked this past Earth Day with an op-ed in the Chelsea Record detailing a new project to expand the state’s air monitoring network. MassDEP, working with the City of Chelsea, the City Council, GreenRoots, and local citizens, placed a new air monitoring station that takes continuous air samples to measure fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) and volatile organic compounds in an environmental justice (EJ) community. In addition to this new air monitoring station, MassDEP helped the community place nine PurpleAir sensors throughout the city to expand the measurement of PM 2.5. MassDEP also co-located a PurpleAir sensor at the new monitoring station to provide a comparison of the data gathered.
MassDEP’s effort will provide more localized and timely scientific data to communities and help the department measure progress and develop policies and programs to address areas bearing the burden of pollution. MassDEP now has 24 air monitoring stations throughout the state that provide near real-time information on MassAir Online.
In addition, MassDEP is extending this effort to additional EJ communities by making up to ten PM 2.5 air sensors available to communities for placement by residents and local community organizations. You can view the data produced by these sensors at PurpleAir.com, and the same data together with MassDEP’s PM2.5 monitoring data at fire.airnow.gov.
In New Jersey, compact, mixed-use development patterns with commercial, residential, and civic buildings are common. These types of neighborhoods may pose localized air quality risks for pedestrians from automobile pollution, yet little research has explored the impacts of automobile traffic on air quality for pedestrians.
A new project aims to conduct a scientifically sound evaluation of a low-cost air sensor network for citizen science screening and monitoring at a neighborhood scale. Pollutants to be monitored include nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, total oxidants, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. The project will provide a real-world test of the Citizen Science Quality Assurance Project Plan Template for Hot Spot Identification, developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Lessons learned about low-cost sensor networks will be used in the Region 2 Citizen Science Equipment Loan Program. Project results will be shared with state, local, and community organizations interested in the design and conduct of community monitoring projects.
For more information about either effort, contact Kelly Poole of ECOS.