New Citizen Science Equipment for Monitoring Air Quality

INHALE_Generic1Canadian residents will soon be monitoring local air quality while they go about their daily business.

The new equipment, which can be attached to a bike or baby stroller for on-the-go data collection, is a device that both measures particulates in the air as well as the GPS location of the user. The collected data will be useful to both environmental scientists and local residents.

Air pollution is becoming a very real health hazard; in fact, according to a 2013 study by the World Heath Organization, air pollution kills more every year than malaria and AIDS put together. The data collected by bicyclists and new parents will help atmospheric scientists figure out how to reduce pollution and how to keep the public safe until that happens.

The project is centered in Canadian cities Toronto and Hamilton, and is known as INHALE. This cute name stands for ‘Initiative for Healthy Air & Local Economies’. Started by Environment Hamilton and Toronto Environmental Alliance, the equipment also lets users view maps that display the data collected so far. This way, they can avoid a highly-polluted area or an area where a lot of data has already been collected.

Air quality monitoring projects are also in the works in larger parts of Canada, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. Mobile equipment is much more beneficial to data collection than stationary sensors, since more data can be collected over a wider area. The Canadian Bicycle Air Monitoring equips bikers with sensors. The Pittsburgh Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) provides the public with a map of the collected data.

With so many different programs for quality air monitoring, there may be one in your neighborhood. It’s also a great way to score some free equipment, so volunteer today!

Image (c) INHALE

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