Air Quality Assessment at the Community Level
EM – January 2021: This month, EM explores the air quality assessment work done in communities across the United States.by Zuber Farooqui
Traditionally, most outdoor ambient air quality monitoring sites in United States have been designed by federal, state, and local governments to monitor air on regional, state, and local levels for air quality assessment. The data from the monitoring sites are primarily used for attainment demonstration of U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) of criteria pollutants in these specific regions. State Implementation Plans (SIPs) are guidance documents on modeling applications directed at demonstrating attainment and help reduction of air pollution in areas that do not meet the mandated air quality standards. However, these observational data sets are limited by low spatial resolutions, due to existing sparse monitoring networks that do not address detailed community-centric unique air quality challenges. In recent years, air quality monitoring and assessments have started at community levels through collaboration between citizens and professional experts with rising perception of health risks due to air pollution. New low-cost sensor-based air quality measurements have democratized the air quality monitoring and assessment processes by providing easier access to citizens for surveillance of air quality at their homes and communities.
Air quality monitored at the community level empowers local communities in decision-making processes to help reduce emissions, reduce exposure, and develop local mitigation measures. This issue of EM explores the air quality risk assessment performed at community levels. The four studies highlighted here exemplify efforts to address community-based air quality evaluation that include monitoring, exposure assessments, and planning of control strategies at community levels.
The first article by Elizabeth Mannshardt and colleagues describes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Village Green Project (VGP) in Chicago, IL. Next, the article by Kristen Law and colleagues discusses the future of air quality planning co-leading with community. The third article by Julia Luongo and colleagues discusses a case study in Richmond, CA, where a new approach of combining community-specific air quality modeling with a dense air sensor deployment into a real-time model has been developed. Finally, the fourth article by Stephen Reid and colleagues presents an estimation of air quality impacts at the community level in West Oakland, CA.
Continue reading the full January 2021 issue of EM.