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Air Quality Citizen Science Research Project in Williamsburg, NYC

Authors:

Abstract

This Air Quality Citizen Science research project aims to provide a better awareness and understanding of local hotspots of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations in the Williamsburg, Brooklyn neighborhood, which is prone to a high rate of asthma and cardio-respiratory diseases. A key component of the project is to involve the local population in all aspects of the study, ranging from project design to implementation. Members of the community and high school students participated in both defining the study objectives and the collection of air quality data using low-cost sensor technology (AirBeam2) on the basis of personal monitoring procedures. Key targets for the data collection on PM2.5 exposure included schools and playgrounds near major roadways. Project participants attended workshops and training sessions to better understand air pollution in their community and to learn how to use low cost sensor technology to collect and analyze environmental data. In addition to personal monitoring activities, a fixed-site monitoring network, using low-cost Airbeam2 devices, was set up at 12 locations in the Williamsburg neighborhood, which provide real-time PM2.5 air concentrations that are transmitted to a cloud server. Tableau software is being used for data visualization and risk communication. Prior to the use of low cost sensor technology for personal monitoring and the fixed-site network in the project area, an assessment of the performance of all Airbeam2 instruments was performed under ambient conditions at the Queens College-based regulatory monitoring site. Preliminary data indicate distinct spatial patterns of PM2.5 concentrations in the project area of Williamsburg. Some of the questions which will be answered through this Citizen Science pilot study involve a better understanding of the effectiveness of community and volunteer collaboration and an assessment of the efficacy of low cost sensor technology to describe fine scale spatial-temporal characteristics of the project area in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
AGU 2019 San Francisco, California
Air Quality Citizen Science Research Project in Williamsburg, NYC
Ana M.C. Ilie1 and Holger M. Eisl1
1Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment, CUNY Queens College, New York,
USA
Abstract
This Air Quality Citizen Science research project aims to provide a better awareness and
understanding of local hotspots of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations in the
Williamsburg, Brooklyn neighborhood, which is prone to a high rate of asthma and cardio-
respiratory diseases. A key component of the project is to involve the local population in all
aspects of the study, ranging from project design to implementation. Members of the
community and high school students participated in both defining the study objectives and the
collection of air quality data using low-cost sensor technology (AirBeam2) on the basis of personal
monitoring procedures. Key targets for the data collection on PM2.5 exposure included schools
and playgrounds near major roadways. Project participants attended workshops and training
sessions to better understand air pollution in their community and to learn how to use low cost
sensor technology to collect and analyze environmental data. In addition to personal monitoring
activities, a fixed-site monitoring network, using low-cost Airbeam2 devices, was set up at 12
locations in the Williamsburg neighborhood, which provide real-time PM2.5 air concentrations
that are transmitted to a cloud server. Tableau software is being used for data visualization and
risk communication. Prior to the use of low cost sensor technology for personal monitoring and
the fixed-site network in the project area, an assessment of the performance of all Airbeam2
instruments was performed under ambient conditions at the Queens College-based regulatory
monitoring site. Preliminary data indicate distinct spatial patterns of PM2.5 concentrations in the
project area of Williamsburg. Some of the questions which will be answered through this Citizen
Science pilot study involve a better understanding of the effectiveness of community and
volunteer collaboration and an assessment of the efficacy of low cost sensor technology to
describe fine scale spatial-temporal characteristics of the project area in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
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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