Citizen Science in Action

The AirKeepers Citizen Science Program engages students, teachers, and the general public in monitoring hyper-local levels of fine particle pollution (PM 2.5) using portable air sensors. Clean Air Carolina launched the program in Charlotte in 2016 with volunteers taking measurements at both fixed sites and during mobile sessions (walking, biking, etc.). Currently, sensors are being used with the data collected uploaded to websites allowing public viewing of the results. Looking forward, additional types of sensors monitoring fine particle pollution and ground-level ozone will be included in the program.

Why are we monitoring the air?

Air pollution can be deadly. One of the world’s most serious public health issues is particle pollution–invisible, solid, and liquid matter floating in the air. These particles are small enough to pass through the lungs and directly into the bloodstream. There is no safe level of exposure to particle pollution.

Particle pollution can vary by location. In many cases, concentrations can be dramatically different just across town. Different levels of exposure over time have been shown to correlate with high degrees of disparity in mortality rates (NEJM).

The problem is statewide

The entire state of North Carolina has just 23 particle pollution monitors. (above)

Put that into perspective. If particle pollution can vary from one neighborhood to another, how are we gathering accurate pollution levels with only 23 monitors in the entire state? (right)

Unfortunately, we are not. We are simply leaving too many communities in the dark on their levels of exposure. This is why AirKeepers is so important – it is critical that we not only gather scientific data but also educate communities with the information gathered. See the map below for the statewide network we’re creating.


North Carolina has 100 counties. Most of them have no monitors at all.

PurpleAir Real-Time Data Map

AirKeepers Fills in the Gaps

Thanks to new, low-cost sensors and the crowd sourcing, Clean Air Carolina is pushing forward hyper-local, real-time particle pollution monitoring in North Carolina.  We need your help to build a network that addresses environmentally impacted communities all across the state.   

Here’s how you can help:


  As an AirKeeper you will be contributing to the cutting edge of air pollution science.


If you are not selected for a sponsored monitor, you can donate a monitor to the location of your choice, with a $40/month recurring gift, or a $450 contribution to the AirKeepers Program.


As an AirKeeper volunteer, you play an important role in our mission to ensure clean, healthy air for all North Carolinians. By working together, we bring air quality education to communities that can lead to advocacy work at the local and state level. AirKeeper volunteers assist at monitoring events,  attend educational outreach sessions, help with the upkeep of our monitors,  and represent the program at tabling events and conferences.

Corporate Sponsorship

Contact Program Director, Terry Lansdell, to sponsor a monitor at a school, home or business across the state.

AirKeeper Ron Ross of Charlotte

I work for FMC Lithium which is committed to sustainability and supports the mission of Clean Air Carolina. We participated in the 5K Run & Walk for Clean Air for several years. Today, I continue to offer my time as an “AirKeeper,” supporting CAC’s citizen science initiative. Air quality is important to our health and the environment. I’m proud to be a volunteer and a financial supporter of Clean Air Carolina.”

Larry Bumgardner

Volunteer, Clean Air Carolina