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EPA - Air Quality Grant


Last updated 8/13/2016 at 9:40am

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have provided a $750,000 grant to AQMD to teach volunteers how to properly measure air quality around their homes, neighborhoods and workplaces.

“This research will provide tools communities can use to understand air pollution in their neighborhoods and improve public health,” said Thomas Burke, science advisor and deputy assistant administrator of the EPA Office of Research and Development.

In the next few months, the AQMD will hold workshops in six different communities — two in Southern California, four in Central and Northern California. Approximately 200 people will be trained on how to use low-cost retail devices for measuring air emissions in real time. The AQMD scientists will check the data for reliability in the Air Quality Sensor Performance Evaluation Center lab at their headquarters in Diamond Bar.

“The idea of having real, independent citizen scientists as one more set of data to be able to make some type of correlations would be what we need,” said Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez, founder of the Clean Air Coalition of North Whittier and Avocado Heights.

Most of the devices on the market detect PM, said Andrea Polidori, principal investigator at the AQMD, who analyzes these at the lab. These can be useful for communities downwind of smoke from a wildfire, he said.

“People who live near fires, that would be a very good application. The sensors for PM2.5 and for measuring carbon are relatively cheap,” he said. These can cost $800 on the retail market. The portable devices range up to $2,500 or more, he said.

One possible application is predicting odors from the Salton Sea, which can have an impact 150 miles away

providing an early warning system, alerting residents to incoming air pollutants.


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