Air pollution monitoring by community members

screen shot of pollution detector
This map from the Flow2 pollution detector shows areas in red, purple and orange where pollution levels spiked.

Working with University of Cincinnati, we’ve begun some air pollution monitoring in a polluted area. We are using Plume labs handheld monitors called Flow 2. Flow 2 monitors particulate matter or PM (soot, smoke, solids or any of hundreds of chemicals), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). We have already encountered high levels of some of these pollutants.

PM is inhalable and can travel deep into the lungs and possibly bloodstream. PM smaller than 2.5 microns are the most dangerous to health. NO2 affects breathing, can worsen respiratory diseases especially asthma. VOC include a number of chemicals and can affect respiratory systems, central nervous system and some can cause cancer. Chemicals from these pollutants can also combine to form ground level ozone.

We could use a couple more hands to help with the monitoring at specific sites, especially in August. We will be going beyond August as weather permits. We’ll be using the protocol that UC developed and can train volunteers in the use of the monitors. If interested in getting involved in this data collection effort to help understand the pollution impact on the community, email Marilyn Wall at [email protected]

Here are some links to learn more about these pollutants.

https://www.epa.gov/pm-pollution/particulate-matter-pm-basics

https://www.epa.gov/no2-pollution/basic-information-about-no2

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/what-are-volatile-organic-compounds-vocs

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