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By GCN Staff

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Air quality monitoring takes a walk in the park

Finding information on local air quality may soon be as easy as a walk in the park.  The Environmental Protection Agency announced five cities will be getting  Village Green solar-powered air monitoring stations to install in parks and community centers. 

The stations use air sensors, miniaturized and low-power computer technology, solar panels and recycled materials to measure common air pollutants and weather conditions. The data is wirelessly transmitted from the stations by cellular modem, quality-checked and then posted online.

The new project aims to increase citizen participation and understanding of local air quality.  “The project puts science into the hands of citizens, allowing them to access local air quality information from the benches through on-site displays and a mobile-friendly website,” EPA said.   

The real-time data measured by the stations can be used by citizen scientists, students, community organizations and researchers to understand air quality and how events such as weather changes or nearby sources of air pollution can change local conditions.  “These new solar-powered, air monitoring park benches provide minute-by-minute data that can help citizens better understand air quality,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said.

The five new monitoring stations will be installed at:

  • Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia;
  • The children’s area at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.;
  • The Children’s Garden of the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City;
  • Outside the new Kansas City South Branch Library; and
  • Outside the Connecticut Science Center in Harford.

A pilot station at South Regional Library in Durham County, N.C., has been operating since June 2013, providing reliable readings every minute on particulate matter, ozone, wind speed and direction, temperature and humidity. The data is automatically streamed to the Village Green Project web page.

The Durham station has been a gathering place for the local community to learn about air quality and has allowed agency researchers to assess how the technology performed, the EPA said. Additionally, the agency is developing a detailed design package for use by anyone who is interested in building a station.

Posted by Mark Pomerleau on Apr 27, 2015 at 1:55 PM


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