The EPA awarded researchers from Carnegie Mellon University a $749,945 grant to fund an air-quality-monitoring project in Pittsburgh. This project would help community members know local air pollution levels to reduce their exposure.
The project will place low-cost sensors throughout the city to capture pollution readings. As the university’s press release states: “For example, on the same day the air is clean in Shadyside, pollutant levels could be dangerous in Braddock.” These readings will be available publicly on a Pittsburgh Air Quality Map that the team will develop.
“Now, people who have asthma or want to minimize their exposure to air pollution will know the air quality specific to their area,” said Ramachandran Subramanian, the project’s principal investigator, in the statement. “If levels are high, perhaps they will not send their child to the playground that day.”
Researchers will focus on environmental justice neighborhoods—those in which residents are predominantly people of color, low-income and/or near pollution emitters—including Mon Valley, Braddock and Clairton. Organizations like Clean Water Action and the Clean Air Council are helping the scientists connect with community members.
This grant is a part of the EPA’s greater effort to fund air-monitoring technology nationwide. The agency awarded a total of $4.5 million to six research organizations, including ones in Seattle and North Carolina.
“Through these projects, scientists and communities will join together to develop and test new low-cost, portable, easy-to-use ways to measure air pollution,” said Thomas A. Burke, EPA deputy assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development, in a statement. “This research will provide tools communities can use to understand air pollution in their neighborhoods and improve public health.”