Although I’m aware of some air quality monitoring done by citizen scientists, I’m really amazed by the efforts of Clean Air Carolina. They recognize the danger of air pollutants in critical spaces like schools and are combatting the issue by involving those closest to the problem—the students. A recent post by Public News Service focused on the organization’s work with University of North Carolina where students are using the AirCasting platform to test for particulate matter. Assistant professor Susan Haden teaches students how to utilize an Airbeam monitor along with its matching Android app and website; once data is collected it can be viewed in an easy-to-read format and shared. One student in the class had a wake-up call, according to the post.
Kate Ortiz is in Harden’s UNC class this semester, and says she was surprised how much particulate matter she found in a school parking lot full of idling cars waiting to pick up students.
The rise in citizen science monitoring here has a lot to do with the recent shut-down of some of the state’s monitoring units. With the lack of data, Clean Air has strengthened its work in this area and has formed the following goals for 2017:
- create a network across the state to supplement state and federal monitors
- monitor counties and areas without air quality monitors
- work with the EPA to test the effectiveness of monitors and programs like this and to establish collocation rules and protocols when using portable air monitors
They are full steam ahead, and a recent post on their site showed an introduction of AirCasting to Cannon School, a younger group of college-bound students also in the state. Here’s their program:
Air Keepers as they call them, are not just students. The program is community-based so ordinary citizens can learn about their environment. It’s a great concept bringing together the issues of air quality, health, climate change and the power of advocacy. Let’s hope that more states do it like this. Speaking of clean air, do you have a device to suck out those solder fumes yet? I know I’m due for one on my desk. Check out our learning guide for how to make your own Mini Solder Fume Extractor. It’s cute, it’s practical and it will allow you to breathe without being paranoid.