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The role of Citizen Science Projects in the context of information made available by the New York City Community Air Survey

Authors:

Abstract

Traditional approaches to air quality monitoring generally involve regulatory agencies that utilize expensive and complex stationary equipment maintained by trained staff to provide the type of highly accurate data needed for demonstrating attainment with federal air quality standards. While this type of monitoring is a vital component to air quality management, in urban areas these monitors are often deployed at a limited number of rooftop locations. They are intended to track urban scale trends in pollution levels and are not spatially dense enough to characterize intra-urban spatial variation in air quality due to local emissions sources such as traffic. To address this limitation, in 2007 the NYCDOHMH in partnership with Queens College launched the New York City Community Air Survey, a high density monitoring network designed to assess spatial variation in longer term exposures (seasonal and annual average) at the neighborhood-level. NYCCAS uses less expensive monitoring technology than those that meet federal requirements for NAAQS-attainment determination (Federal Reference Methods), trading high temporal resolution achieved by more expensive monitoring methods with increased spatial coverage that can be achieved by deploying larger numbers or lower cost and easier to deploy instrumentation. NYCCAS has become vital to the City’s understanding of the variation in pollution exposures within New York City; however, its operation relies on trained technical, analytic, and field staff to collect and analyze air quality data. In recent years, technological advancements in air quality monitoring have brought to market many lower-cost, easy-to-use, portable air quality sensors that provide high time resolution data in real time which provides exciting opportunities for additional data collection. Simultaneously, there is a growing field of ‘citizen scientists’, non-scientists who are engaged in specific issues that collect or analyze data to contribute to scientific research or advocate for environmental or public health improvements. The NYCCAS team is currently expanding into the area of community engagement and community-based participatory research by developing air quality “citizen-science” toolkits that will include how-to guides for accessing available data on emission sources, designing neighborhood air pollution surveys using new, low-cost technologies, and sharing data online. We will discuss the role of citizen science projects in metropolitan areas where a considerable understanding of local air pollution exposure already exists.
September 12-14, 2018 Abstract for Air Sensors International Conference
1
The role of Citizen Science Projects in the context of information made available
by the New York City Community Air Survey
H. Eisl and A.M.C. Ilie
Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment, Queens College, NY, USA
Traditional approaches to air quality monitoring generally involve regulatory agencies
that utilize expensive and complex stationary equipment maintained by trained staff to provide
the type of highly accurate data needed for demonstrating attainment with federal air quality
standards. While this type of monitoring is a vital component to air quality management, in urban
areas these monitors are often deployed at a limited number of rooftop locations. They are
intended to track urban scale trends in pollution levels and are not spatially dense enough to
characterize intra-urban spatial variation in air quality due to local emissions sources such as
traffic. To address this limitation, in 2007 the NYCDOHMH in partnership with Queens College
launched the New York City Community Air Survey, a high density monitoring network designed
to assess spatial variation in longer term exposures (seasonal and annual average) at the
neighborhood-level. NYCCAS uses less expensive monitoring technology than those that meet
federal requirements for NAAQS-attainment determination (Federal Reference Methods),
trading high temporal resolution achieved by more expensive monitoring methods with
increased spatial coverage that can be achieved by deploying larger numbers or lower cost and
easier to deploy instrumentation. NYCCAS has become vital to the City’s understanding of the
variation in pollution exposures within New York City; however, its operation relies on trained
technical, analytic, and field staff to collect and analyze air quality data. In recent years,
technological advancements in air quality monitoring have brought to market many lower-cost,
easy-to-use, portable air quality sensors that provide high time resolution data in real time which
provides exciting opportunities for additional data collection. Simultaneously, there is a growing
field of ‘citizen scientists’, non-scientists who are engaged in specific issues that collect or analyze
data to contribute to scientific research or advocate for environmental or public health
improvements. The NYCCAS team is currently expanding into the area of community
engagement and community-based participatory research by developing air quality “citizen-
science” toolkits that will include how-to guides for accessing available data on emission sources,
designing neighborhood air pollution surveys using new, low-cost technologies, and sharing data
online. We will discuss the role of citizen science projects in metropolitan areas where a
considerable understanding of local air pollution exposure already exists.
Book
Full-text available
Traditional approaches to air quality monitoring typically involve regulatory agencies that utilize expensive and complex stationary equipment, maintained by trained staff, to provide the type of highly accurate data needed to demonstrate attainment with federal air quality standards. While this type of monitoring is a vital component to air quality management, in urban areas these monitors are often deployed at, only, a limited number of rooftop locations. Though intended to track urban scale trends in pollution levels, the placement of these monitors is not spatially dense enough to characterize intra-urban spatial variation in air quality, due to local emissions sources such as traffic. To address this limitation, this project explored the feasibility of using stationary low-cost monitoring networks for spatial and temporal estimation of ambient fine particulate concentrations in two environmental justice communities in New York City – El Puente (Brooklyn) and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (the Bronx).
Technical Report
Full-text available
Increase citizen engagement in accessing, collecting, and communicating air quality data, thus providing tools to better inform communities on air quality issues. Provide communities with information for advocating for clean air. Increase data collection in communities that can offer additional spatial and temporal da-ta on pollution levels beyond existing NYCCAS and regulatory methods. These data can offer valuable insights into gradients near major sources and temporal characteristics that contribute to chronically high levels of pollution in many neighborhoods. Produce data for research efforts aimed at combining data from low-cost sensor networks with data from existing NYCCAS or regulatory monitoring networks. These statistical fusion techniques can help develop more spatiotemporally resolved exposure maps of air pollution exposure and inform how the City and other researchers use sensor data in the future. Develop data systems that allow for remote uploading of data to servers or citizen uploading of air quality data.
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