Question: How to start air monitoring project?

shannonkmcalpine asked on February 01, 2019 23:28
113 | 0 answers | #18242

Myself and @kahlilkochiyama are interested in monitoring our community's air quality, especially near freeways and refineries. We are based in the Greater Los Angeles area. How should we begin this project?


Hi guys, can you give a bit of background and I'll try and help as I've just finished a first project in this area.

People: are you looking to represent a specific area or community you live in? Are you intending to measure at one site or several? Is it incorporated with education, research or community?

Science: what kind of measurements are you trying to make in terms of Particulate Matter, NO2 or another parameter?

Technology: are you looking at IoT sensors as a way to represent this?

A good site to start with is and see if there are any sensors taking measurements in your area.


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Hi @kahlilkochiyama and @shannonkmcalpine , Great to hear from you! How about posting an "issue brief", and we can start tackling pieces of the project one at a time? Alternatively, just share more context about your aspirations and concerns. <3

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Hi @kahlilkochiyama and @shannonkmcalpine Some suggestions for beginning questions for air monitoring in the Los Angeles area: There are many government air quality monitors working in the LA area, see for instance, in addition to the many people with Purple Air Monitors with data shown on the PurpleAir map: with data publicly available. So to get an indication of what you are interested in and possible solutions as well as your own knowledge I would ask: what do you find lacking in the data from these monitors? and what more would you want? One more initial question would be: are you also interested in using air quality in a community organizing project? Detailed answers would be helpful. Thanks.

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+1 to these good questions! Also down the line these folks could potentially be of help also the "." at the end of liz's link killed that link so here's the issue brief page again

Thank you all for your comments and advice, we really appreciate it! Here is a little more information about our concerns, hopefully this will provide more background to you all!

We live in the neighboring cities of Gardena and Torrance in the South Bay where there is a large refinery and major freeways that are in close proximity to communities. After learning about harmful pollutants that are released as a result of diesel exhaust and through refinery practices, we were curious to see how the air quality in our cities measured up and if these levels could have harmful health effects on those in our communities. We’re interested in monitoring several sites near the Torrance Refinery and in Gardena, especially near the freeways. These locations can possibly include public spaces through soil samples, or residential air quality.

We would like to focus on NO2 and PM, but we’re open to exploring other possible pollutants because we are unsure of what other pollutants may be worth monitoring. We were not aware of loT sensors, but is it something that you guys would recommend using? We were looking into Purple Air devices, but weren’t really sure what other technology would be useful.

One thing lacking from these monitors is data from Gardena. Additionally, in the arcgis map @jeffalk provided, our region’s monitors do not measure for NO2, which is something we are interested in measuring.

We’re interested in taking up a community organizing project, but we would like to get a sense of if our air quality is harmful, and if so, then how severe. We would like to incorporate working with local schools or community organizations, but also for our own knowledge and understanding.

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