RESEARCH POSTER PRESENTATION DESIGN © 2019
There is a growing field of ‘citizen scientists’, non-scientists engaged in specific issues who collect or
analyze data to contribute to scientific research or advocate for environmental or public health
improvements. Concern at various levels of the community regarding health risks attributed to air
pollution is a primary motivator for community-based participatory research air monitoring (Minkler et
al.2012). Specific aims of this study included increase citizen engagement in accessing, collecting, and
communicating air quality data, thus providing tools to better inform communities on air quality issues
and increased data collection in communities that can offer additional spatial and temporal data on
pollution levels beyond existing New York City Community Air Survey (NYCCAS) program and
regulatory methods in the New York City. It was explored the feasibility of using stationary low-cost
monitoring networks for spatial and temporal estimation of ambient fine particulate concentrations
(PM2.5) in an environmental justice community in New York City –El Puente, in Brooklyn a borough
which is characterized by a high rate of asthma and cardio-respiratory issues due to the presence of high
levels of particulate matter in the atmosphere. The study area is located close to Brooklyn-Queens
Expressway and Williamsburg Bridge.
Air Quality Citizen Science research project aimed to give us a better understanding of fine particulate
matter (PM2.5) concentrations in Williamsburg. Many schools, playgrounds and parks are located right
next to the areas of high emissions. A monitoring system was developed using Airbeam2 instruments,
which provided continuous real-time PM2.5 air concentrations and data visualization from 12 different
locations in the neighborhood, as shown in Figure 1. For instance, locations included areas in front of
schools where the kids get dropped off, or close to schoolyards. The AirBeam2s were first deployed at
the Queens College DEC site for inter comparison and colocation with high accuracy instruments, for a
sensor performance assessment. Data was streaming minute by minute since March 28th with four units
running at El Puente Headquarter “W2”, Brooklyn Arbor School “W10”, MS50 School “W4”and
Public 84 School “W6”.In addition, volunteers were walking in the neighborhood with the AirBeam2s
in order to assess the personal PM2.5 exposures.
Bonney Rick, Caren B. Cooper, Janis Dickinson, Steve Kelling, Tina Phillips, Kenneth V. Rosenberg, and Jennifer Shirk.
2009b. Citizen Science: A Developing Tool for Expanding Science Knowledge and Scientific Literacy. BioScience 59
(2009), 977–984. Issue 11.
Brynjarsdottir Hronn, Maria Håkansson, James Pierce, Eric Baumer, Carl DiSalvo, and Phoebe Sengers. 2012.
Sustainably Unpersuaded: How Persuasion Narrows Our Vision of Sustainability. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI
Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 947–956.
Dickinson Janis L, Jennifer Shirk, David Bonter, Rick Bonney, Rhiannon L Crain, Jason Martin, Tina Phillips, and Karen
Purcell. 2012. The current state of citizen science as a tool for ecological research and public engagement. Frontiers in
Ecology and the Environment 10, 6 (2012), 291–297.
Dickinson Janis L. and Rick Bonney. 2012. Citizen Science: Public Participation in Environmental Research (1 ed.).
Cornell University Press.
Minkler, M., A. P. Garcia, V. Rubin, and N. Wallerstein. (2012). Community-based participatory research: a strategy for
building healthy communities and promoting health through policy change.
Rattigan O.V., K.L. Civerolo, H.D. Felton, J.J. Schwab, K.L. Demerjian, 2016. Long Term Trends in New York: PM2.5
Mass and Particle Components. Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 16: 1191-1205, 2016.
The contributors are grateful to DOHMH, El Puente community, high school students, mentors and teachers, Gerald M.,
Peter S., colleagues from City and State agencies that provided logistical support and advice. The instrument
development was part of a 2-year project that was funded by the New York City Department of Health and Mental
▪Increase community awareness of local air quality
▪Increasing citizen participation in acquiring, interpreting, and communicating air quality data
▪Help develop methods for citizen air quality monitoring that can be scaled to other communities
▪Develop strategies for disseminating research findings to the public, community, policymakers and
Colorado School of Mines, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Golden, USA, email@example.com
Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment, NYC, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ana M.C. Ilie and Holger M. Eisl
Are Low-Cost Monitors Good Enough to Help People Understand
Poor Air Quality in their Neighborhood?
▪The workshop consisted of an introduction to the Barry Commoner Center and the influence of
Barry Commoner into the Citizen Science projects in the ’70s who was considered as the Father of
the Modern Environmental Movement.
▪Discussions with the community included topics like Air Quality history, Empedocles the Pre-
Socratic Philosopher, and his theory about the elements Earth-Air-Fire-Water and how they relate to
each other and how pollutants can affect these elements.
▪The participants learned about ‘smog’ which was a term used for the first time in February 1926 in
New York City, the result of homes and businesses burning soft coal, which produced far more
smoke than the hard variety which had limited supply. The media including editors at The New
Yorker tried their best to make light of the situation. It is also interesting to note that the word
“smoggy” was considered by the editors to be a relatively new term.
▪The presentation included a section about pollutants focusing on particulate matter, their definitions,
characteristics based on size and dimension, chemical composition, sources, and health and
environmental effects. Another section presented the latest news on air pollution and what scientists
have done to improve the environment.
▪However, there are still some neighborhoods where air quality is a concerning matter in terms of
high levels of pollutants, specifically in neighborhoods with high traffic density, building density,
and industrial areas, like Williamsburg.
The monthly average of PM2.5 concentrations for W2, W4, W6, W10 was plotted in the form of a line-
chart shown in Figure 2, where a comparison was made between data from different months. The data
for each month was also divided into averages for each weekday, for higher precision. Different colors
indicated different Airbeam2 IDs (also denoting different locations). The highest concentration was
observed for August with an increased average value during the week, reaching the highest
concentration of 16.90 μg/m3on Wednesday. Looking at the overall data, the highest concentrations
were still under the limit of 35 μg/m3as per EPA regulations. An analysis of the highest concentrations
for the remaining months is also discussed in the section below.
-In March unit W2 (S 4th St Brooklyn) recorded the highest average value of 9.66μg/m3,on Saturday
-In April, the highest concentration levels were 10.14μg/m3occurring on Tuesday and Friday at
locations W10 (Brooklyn Arbor School –schoolyard) and W2 (S 4th St Brooklyn)
-In May the highest levels were 12.51μg/m3on Thursday at location W2
-In September the highest levels were 8.52μg/m3on Wednesday at location W10
-In October the highest levels were 7.69μg/m3on Wednesday at location W10
Figure 2: Monthly PM2.5 averages, from March to October 2019.
▪New technology and citizen science projects are growing trends in addressing community concerns
around local specific problems, such as air pollution (Brynjarsdottir et al., 2012; Dickinson and
Bonney, 2012). Science education and participatory democracy are the major outcomes of citizen
science projects (Bonney et al., 2009b; Dickinson et al., 2012).
▪El Puente community goal was to understand if there was a measurable difference in air quality
between the parks previously studied and other areas of the neighborhood, to determine the relative
safety of recreational areas in the neighborhood. The community was interested specifically in
identifying other unsafe areas that deserve attention, as well as safer locations where new
recreational areas could be proposed to be placed. The data analysis carried out for the sensor
measurements collected from the Stationary Network (March –November 2019) showed little
variance in the PM2.5 concentrations at the schoolyards and playgrounds.
▪Air quality in NYC has, generally, improved since the 1970s (NYC Gov.). Based on an analysis of
an approximately 15-year period, Rattigan et al (2016), reported substantial decreases in PM2.5 mass
(30–40% decrease in annual mean values) and other major components across New York since the
▪Based on the time series analysis of the collected data it can be considered that the Stationary
Network provided us more precise information on diurnal patterns by going into the details of hourly
measurements while NYCCAS study was more focused on the identification of seasonal patterns.
Data on diurnal pattern were collected at all network locations. Data from monitoring locations close
to the Williamsburg Bridge and BQE showed the highest ambient PM2.5 concentrations throughout
the study period compared to monitoring sites that were located at larger distances from Interstate
DISCUSSIONS AND CONCLUSIONS