RTI International to create framework for communities to design and conduct air quality monitoring studies

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC— As part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiative to advance air monitoring technology, RTI International will create a framework to empower and support communities to design and conduct air quality monitoring studies.

The project is part of a $4.5 million award, funded through the EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, to six research organizations to develop and use low-cost air pollution sensor technology, while engaging communities to learn about their local air quality. Grantees will also study the accuracy of data produced by sensors and sensor networks.

“A disconnect exists between the proliferation of low-cost sensors and capabilities of communities,” said Seung-Hyun Cho, Ph.D., research aerosol engineer at RTI and the project’s lead. “Communities and citizens may not have the resources, skills, and knowledge to use these sensors to collect, analyze, and interpret the air quality data in a manner that addresses their concerns or supports changes in behavior to reduce air pollution exposures.”

RTI researchers will investigate how low-cost portable sensors, such as the MicroPEM, can be used by communities to understand and avoid air pollution exposure, methods for understanding and managing the quality of data from these sensors, and how sensors and sensor networks compare to existing state-of-the-art air quality monitoring methods. The study will be conducted in the Globeville-Elyria-Swansea, a community focused on air pollution issues and health disparities located north of downtown Denver, Colorado.

“This study will provide an understanding of effective approaches to use sensor data for individuals and communities to reduce exposure to air pollution, and identify areas of support needed for individuals and communities to conduct exposure investigations,” Cho said.

RTI is partnering with National Jewish Health and Groundwork Denver to collect data of ambient air quality and personal exposures of air pollution, and engage community members to interact with and understand the technology.

“Through these projects, scientists and communities will join together to develop and test new low-cost, portable, easy-to-use ways to measure air pollution,” said Thomas A. Burke, EPA science advisor and deputy assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “This research will provide tools communities can use to understand air pollution in their neighborhoods and improve public health.”

A woman works with RTI MicroPEM devices

Highlights

  • RTI International will create a framework to empower and support communities to design and conduct air quality monitoring studies
  • The project is part of a $4.5 million award, funded through the EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program
  • RTI researchers will investigate how low-cost portable sensors, such as the MicroPEM, can be used by communities to understand and avoid air pollution exposure