In 2019, the Ecology Center's Environmental Education and HealthyStuff programs launched a community-based science program to monitor air quality with low-cost air monitors. The program works with schools and community partners to install and generate local air quality data which is used to educate students and community members.
The program currently uses three types of air monitors: twenty PurpleAir particulate matter (PM) monitors; three Aeroqual Micro Air Quality Monitors; and one Series 500 - Portable Multi-pollutant Air Quality Monitor.
Our current school partners in Detroit include the Grace Lee Boggs School, 4141 Mitchell St., Detroit; University Prep Academy High School, 610 Antoinette St, Detroit, and the Clippert Multicultural Magnet Honors Academy,1981 McKinstry St., Detroit. Each school is conducted pilot programs with students in April and May of 2019. The schools all have both an indoor and outdoor monitor. This allows student to analyze differences between indoor and outdoor PM levels.
Other monitors have been installed outside homes and businesses in areas near the schools to provide a broader assessment if the local air quality for students to analyze.
Air pollution is a mix of solid particles and gasses in the air that can cause harm to people. Ozone and particulate matter are two dangerous types of air pollution. Ozone is produced when oxygen, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) combine in the presence of sunlight. The sources of nitrogen oxide and VOCs come from car engine exhaust, industrial emissions and combustion, gasoline vaports, paints, and chemical solutions.
Particulate Matter (PM) is the small, solid material suspended in the air taht is albe to enter our airways when breathing. PM is classified based on the size of the particles. PM2.5 is the small enough to be carried into the bloodstream throught the delicate lungs. The larger PM10 settles in our sinuses and air passages because the particles are too big to pass through lung tissue. Major sources of PM pollution are fires, burning waste, exhaust, industrial processes, and windblown particles in dry environments, such as dust from agricultural fields.
*Children exposed to air pollution are particularly sensitive to decreased lung function.
Purple Air brand PM sensors are mounted on structures. Monitors are about the size of a softball with a rounded top and flat bottom. They communicate information about air conditions wirelessly to an online database.
The Purple Air monitors are not calibrated to meet legal monitoring standards, but do provide high quality information to indentify issues of concern and opportunities for community-led action.
The Ecology Center project is placing some Purple Air monitors at established government monitoring stations to measure how our data compares to official air pollution readings.
Published on April 30, 2019