Session 3: Indoor Air Quality, Exposure & Health, Youth Education & Development

Virtual Fall Series

Event Date

Virtually through Zoom

Session moderated by Ajith Kaduwela, California Air Resources Board, and Katie George, California Air Resources Board

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The GO3 Project and AQTreks: A decade of air pollution monitoring with students and the public

Presented by: Jessa Ellenburg, 2B Technologies

Summary: Over the past decade, new and emerging technologies in air pollution instrumentation have made it possible to involve students and citizen scientists in air pollution monitoring. Similarly, advances in data communication and transmission have made it increasingly easy to share and display data. Two educational programs, the Global Ozone (GO3) Project and AQTreks, have used these advances to get air pollution monitors into the hands of thousands of students around the world and to automate data sharing. These educational projects began in 2009 with the GO3 Project, a stationary ground level ozone monitoring project. In the GO3 Project, students and teachers at more than 100 schools from around the world installed ozone and weather monitoring stations at their schools with automatic uploading of their data, resulting in more than 12 million ozone measurements. Over the years, new technologies became available for students to expand their measurements from stationary to mobile platforms. Since 2016, the AQTreks educational program has been developed concurrently with the Personal Air Monitor (PAM), a mobile sensor suite paired with a smartphone app. Complimenting the technology are online curricula and resources for students and citizens to learn about air pollution and climate change. In these projects, a focus on data quality and the careful selection of monitoring technologies have resulted in scientific use of the student-collected data, including their incorporation in several research campaigns that have furthered understanding of ground-level ozone formation. My talk will cover general information about our path and lessons learned from our air pollution monitoring programs. I will address the various benefits and disadvantages of stationary vs. mobile educational programs, including the aspects students seem to be most interested in, the scientific value of the data, etc. I will tailor my talk to the audience, focusing on the interests of those in attendance.

Using a Particle Sensor Network to Characterize Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality of Buildings in Areas Prone to Wildfires

Presented by: Heidi Vreeland, US EPA Office of Research and Development

Summary: When wildfire events increase outdoor particulate matter concentrations to unsafe levels, a common recommendation for mitigating smoke exposure is to spend time indoors. However, effectively reducing smoke exposure and maintaining clean air indoors depends on a variety of building characteristics and occupant behavioral factors. To gain insights into the indoor/outdoor relationships of PM2.5 across buildings, this study utilizes low-cost sensors (PurpleAir PA-II-SD) to characterize indoor and outdoor PM2.5 at public and commercial buildings in two locations impacted by wildfire events in recent years: Missoula, Montana and Hoopa, California. Sensors were stationed inside and outside of 18 buildings across Missoula during summer 2019 (July–Sept) to coincide with peak fire season, and 11 buildings across Hoopa during winter (Nov 2019 – Feb 2020) when woodstove heating dominates outdoor emissions. Prior to evaluating indoor reductions, criteria were developed to identify indoor-generated sources. Preliminary results suggest that indoor reductions ranged from 6% to 44% (26±11%) in Missoula, and 19% to 69% (51±16%) in Hoopa. The smaller reductions in Missoula are largely attributed to frequent door openings for ventilation during summer. In Missoula, indoor reductions were similar during smoke-impacted and typical (non-smoke) periods indicating that measurements taken outside of fire season are informative and may be useful for improving smoke preparedness. Although the only smoke events that occurred in Missoula during summer 2019 were moderate and associated with prescribed burns, this work provides valuable insights into the variance among indoor/outdoor PM2.5. This work also demonstrates the utility of low-cost sensor networks for residents and public health agencies to better understand where clean indoor spaces exist and, potentially, to offer guidance on reducing indoor concentrations before smoke events occur.

Air quality monitoring and comparison in olympic stadiums of five continents using low cost sensors

Presented by: Edurne Ibarrola, Kunak Technologies

Summary: World Athletics started in 2018 to create a real-time air quality network with global coverage to help athletes choose the best times to train and compete and to help organizers to protect the health of athletes, understanding air quality impacts on people’s life quality. The objectives were to (1) monitor environmental conditions in Olympic stadiums and marathons, (2) study the air pollution impact in athlete’s health and performance, (3) raise awareness on air quality issues and make better decisions, (4) offer an added value to athletic competitions in terms of sustainability, increased protection of the health of participants and social awareness.

Kunak-Air 10 is provided with CO, NO2, NO, O3, NOx, PM10, PM2.5, PM1, and meteorological sensors. Five different K-Air 10 were set up in Olympic stadiums: Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Mexico DF, Monaco, Sydney and Yokohama. In this context, the temporal patterns for gases and particles were studied during a period of one year (December 2018-November 2019). For gaseous pollutants, higher concentrations of O3 appear in Monaco and Yokohama, while the highest concentrations of NO2, NO and NOx appear in Addis Ababa and Mexico DF. Yokohama and Monaco stadiums are notable for the low pollutant concentrations reported (except for O3). The impact of traffic emissions is detectable in all the stadiums during the mornings, whereas distinct evening traffic peaks are observed in some of them. The highest particle concentrations were recorded at the Addis Ababa stadium and Mexico DF.

The main conclusions are: all the stadiums appear to be impacted by vehicular traffic emissions; the highest air pollutant concentrations were recorded in Addis Ababa and in Mexico DF; the daily time patterns of air pollutants provided useful information to identify optimal periods for training or competition in each stadium; and periods and days of the week which were most advisable for outdoor sports activities in each of the stadiums were identified.

Engaging School Communities in Air Senors

Presented by: Aubrey Burgess, Denver Department of Public Health and Environment

Summary: The City and County of Denver’s Love My Air program is creating a citywide air quality (AQ) monitoring network to provide real-time AQ data—utilizing low-cost cutting-edge air pollution sensor technology to make it useful for widescale deployment and replicability. Love My Air aims to empower school communities to reduce air pollution and limit exposure through behavior change, advocacy, and community engagement. By 2021, 40 Denver Public Schools (DPS) will have sensors and dashboards that relay hyper-local, real-time data. The data dashboards are visible via a large TV display inside each school and at School communities (23 currently) use this data to learn AQ basics, how their behaviors impact local AQ, and how it impacts their health. 

Love My Air Denver is exploring innovative opportunities to engage school communities. For example, AQ curricula are paired with hand-held sensors allowing students to conduct their own citizen science projects. The curriculum has been redesigned to include virtual labs and at-home activities for the new virtual school year. Students can put their knowledge to the test with community-wide science projects and friendly competitions. Love My Air Denver is also in the process of developing a phone app that would allow for interactive access to AQ forecasts and data, tips for reducing exposure, and other educational tools. Students also have the opportunity to engage in several art projects, including working with a local artist to paint their school’s sensor and designing customized anti-idling campaign signage. 

Another core value of Love My Air Denver is to utilize community members at experts. Parents, teachers, nurses, principals, and students have been involved in the development process from designing the dashboards to developing curricula. The vision is to share best practices and lessons learned throughout this process to make this program replicable by other municipalities.

Community-driven open-data on Pakistan’s air pollution problem

Presented by: Abid Omar, Pakistand Air Quality Initiative

Summary: Pakistan has an air quality data problem with little to no monitoring across the country. Community-driven air quality monitoring has been instrumental in filling the air quality data gap in Pakistan, and in creating a grassroots citizen’s movement advocating for clean air. Real-time data from this community network has put a magnifying glass on air pollution, where citizens can react to their local air pollution, evaluate impact of emission-reduction policies, and ultimately providing the impetus for a cleaner environment.

This paper presents Pakistan as a case study of a typical low-income country, similar to other developing countries across South Asia and Africa, lacking reference-standard monitoring equipment, or the technical capacity to manage them. Pakistan’s community-based nationwide network of low-cost real-time air quality monitors has helped fill the data gap in Pakistan and has been instrumental in many ways, by engaging the community and corporate citizens in participatory monitoring, by creating a network of ambassadors for air quality awareness, and finally by providing the baseline data for the government to initiate reference-standard monitoring. The impact from this community monitoring network has been tremendous in kick-starting awareness and furthering monitoring in one of the most air-polluted regions of the world. 

Learnings from this initiative are shared to enable other communities, cities and countries to harness a similar network of low-cost monitors to kick-start positive environmental change in their region, and how to engage and develop a community of citizen scientists to deploy, maintain and manage air quality sensors in a decentralized network.

Youth Education:  Measurement of Indoor Air Quality Impacts of Nearby Wildfires using Low-Cost Air Sensors.

Presented byTara Lee, Minju O’Rourke, & Sean Morris, of Albany High School, Albany Unified School District and Ajith Kaduwela, Air Quality Research Center, UC Davis

Summary: The Air Quality Club at the Albany High School was established at 2017 and currently conducts air quality measurements (mainly indoor) using low-cost sensor packages.  Due to COVID-19 crisis, the school was closed for several months and the sensor packages were moved into the homes of students and teachers to assess the air quality impacts of COVID-19 lockdown.  During this investigation, three major lightning-induced wildfire complexes started in the Bay Area on August 16-19, 2000.  Albany was affected by these fires depending on the wind direction.  In this presentation, we will first describe the Club activities since the previous AISC presentation in 2018.  We will then compare and contrast the indoor impacts of these nearby wildfires with those of the 2018 distant Camp Fire (findings of Camp Fire impacts are now published in the Journal of Air & Waste Management Association).  We will conclude the presentation with future plans for the Club.