Training citizen scientists to monitor air quality
An EPA news story/blog post by Amanda Kaufman
As a science fellow at EPA, I am working with Agency researchers to help bring local air measurement capabilities to communities. This includes training citizen scientists with next generation air monitors developed by EPA researchers. One such device is the Citizen Science Air Monitor, which contains many sophisticated instruments to measure air quality under its sleek and simple design.
The monitor does a lot for being so small and portable. It measures two air pollutants—nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter—as well as relative humidity and temperature.
In January, I traveled to Newark with researchers who developed the monitor to help train members of the Ironbound Community Corporation to use and maintain the monitors and collect data. The training was very hands-on and the participants were enthusiastic. They even turned the exercise for assembling the monitors into a friendly competition.
EPA researchers shared two training manuals that they developed as part of the outreach project. The quality assurance guidelines and operating procedures manuals are available to the public and are part of an online Citizen Science Toolbox developed to assist citizen scientists who are interested in using new air sensor technologies.
While the quality assurance guidelines and operating procedure are specific to the monitor developed for the Ironbound community, many of the concepts detailed in the documents are transferable to similar air quality monitoring efforts using next generation air monitors. The manuals are:
The Citizen Science Air Monitor (CSAM) Quality Assurance Guidelines provides basic information to ensure that the environmental data collected in their monitoring project is credible and usable.
The Citizen Science Air Monitor (CSAM) Operating Procedure manual provides users simple, step-by-step instructions on how to use the CSAM, including software installation and setup, performance checks, field operation, data collection, and data processing.
The ultimate goal of the research project is to empower people with information to address their local air quality concerns. I am glad to be a part of this important activity empowering a community to monitor their local quality
About the Author: Amanda Kaufman is an ORISE participant hosted by EPA’s Air, Climate, and Energy national research program.