Over 100 people came out to Clean Air Carolina’s Making Air Visible event held at CPCC’s Tate Hall in Charlotte on Tuesday, December 6. CAC hosted two national speakers who presented on the quickly expanding field of research using portable sensors to collect emissions exposure in real-time at the hyper-local level. Dan Costa, National Program Director of EPA’s Air, Climate and Energy Research Programs, told the audience that a revolution is happening, as advances in technology now allow us to engage “citizen scientists” in monitoring the air they breathe. For North Carolinians, this is especially important as legislators over the past four years have slashed regulations on all types of pollution sources and are shutting down federally approved monitors around the state.
According to Dan Costa, “EPA is advancing the next generation of air monitoring technology by working with innovators like Aclima, conducting research and engaging communities in monitoring studies. The lower-cost air sensors now available commercially enable citizens and community groups to conduct their own science projects to learn about local air quality.”
On Tuesday morning before the event, WFAE’s Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins featured Terry Lansdell, our Program Director, speaking about our AirKeepers Program working with residents all over the city, but primarily in Charlotte’s Northwest Corridor, to measure levels of invisible, fine particle pollution. The Northwest Corridor is disproportionately impacted by air emissions due to its proximity to I-85, I-77, and Brookshire Freeway. Dan Costa of the EPA was also a guest on the show along with Melissa Lunden, Chief Scientist at Aclima, a San Francisco company designing and deploying networks of air sensors in Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Melissa noted “We have a profound opportunity to understand how cities live and breathe in an entirely new way by integrating Aclima’s environmental intelligence platform with Google Street View cars. With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities, environmental health data will be increasingly important to everyday decisions that affect our quality of life.”
To learn more about the partnership between Aclima, the EPA, and Google Earth, click here to watch a four-minute video.
Another excellent analysis of this critically important work we are doing is provided in an online article If you smell something, say something by NC Policy Watch reporter Lisa Sorg. Lisa attended Clean Air Carolina’s December 6 event and does an exceptional job linking the reckless and destructive actions by NC legislators to low-income communities located near polluting facilities. The article describes multiple ways the legislature has been de-regulating polluters over the past few years and provides a map showing how many “small” emitters no longer have to submit an air quality permit for review by the state.
The Charlotte Post also had a front-page story Matters of Life and Breath in Northwest Charlotte highlighting our work in the Northwest Corridor. Northwood Estates president Ron Ross, who is hosting an AirBeam monitor, is quoted in the article about air pollution affecting his neighborhood.
“Freeways were designed in our neighborhoods after the neighborhoods were here,” said neighborhood AirKeeper Ron Ross, President of the Northwood Estates Neighborhood Association. “These problems have been manmade. You’re seeing increased traffic on I-77. You’re seeing how redevelopment is impacting our air quality.”
The exciting news is, the public is paying attention. People are realizing the challenges we face and are standing up ready to make a difference. And, Clean Air Carolina’s new citizen science initiative enables them to do just that. Using science and technology, we are putting real-time air monitors into the hands of the community and inspiring residents and organizations to participate in identifying critical air quality problems. Currently, 17 hand-held air quality monitors are deployed across the Charlotte region; we need your financial support to help expand our network of “AirKeepers” to Charlotte’s most vulnerable communities.