We tip our masks to one, of many, great examples of community action: Our friends at the Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Chelsea Coalition for Pedestrian Safety (CHEKPEDS), in New York City.
These intrepid air quality champions have been working to map what pedestrians breathe in New York. In their quest for healthier walking, CHEKPEDS armed 25 volunteers with Flow personal pollution sensors to study air quality in their community.
So how did they do it? From early October to mid-November 2019, the volunteers wore their Flows during the day as they walked specific routes. Our data and atmospheric scientists were then able to take the data collected by the volunteers and see what they were exposed to, at what levels, and where.
What did they learn? Here is a look at the average pollutant by pollutant exposure experienced by the participants, week over week.
What adds even more interest to these findings is where the participants were exposed to the highest levels of pollution. The following map was created using only data collected by CHEKPEDS volunteers!
Next steps: Taking the personal to the public
Thanks to the CHEKPEDS volunteers, we have an amazing look at the personal exposure of a group of people moving around a neighbourhood. By using Flows, the team was able to identify where they were being exposed to pollution, what types of pollutants, and at what levels. By looking at personal exposure, we start to see how air pollution affects individuals over time and space.
Citizen scientists, like the CHEKPEDS volunteers, can help city planners and researchers save time and resources by prioritizing problem areas identified with personal pollution sensors. Researchers can use this information to focus their efforts on pollution hotspots, helping them get the data they need to make pollution-reducing decisions.
Our team at Plume Labs also takes an innovative approach to hyper-local air quality mapping by using a variety of data sources to create real time models of air pollution in New York, and cities around the world.
We’re working to integrate citizen-science data into our maps to create a truly democratic approach to air quality mapping. We hope that communities will be able use this crowdsourced air quality information resource to tell their stories in compelling, science-based ways, leading to cleaner air for all.
Do you have a story to tell? Have a project perking? We’d love to hear from you!