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Matters of life and breath in Northwest Charlotte
Communities unite for air quality studies
 
Published Monday, December 12, 2016 11:42 am
by Ashley Mahoney

Northwest Charlotte has an air quality problem.


Clean Air Carolina is collaborating with communities and larger organizations, such as Aclima and the Environmental Protection Agency, to monitor and improve air quality in vulnerable neighborhoods, especially those near major roadways. Northwest Charlotte is bordered by Interstate 85 and I-77.


“EPA is advancing the next generation of air monitoring technology by working with innovators like Aclima, conducting research and engaging communities in monitoring studies,” said Dan Costa, national director of the EPA’s Air, Climate and Energy Research Program. “The lower-cost air sensors now available commercially enable citizens and community groups to conduct their own science projects to learn about local air quality.”


Said Melissa Lunden, chief scientist at Aclima: “We have a profound opportunity to understand how cities live and breathe in an entirely new way by integrating Aclima’s environmental intelligence platform with Google Street View cars.”


San Francisco-based Aclima specializes in producing sensor networks that aid in gathering environmental intelligence.


“With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities, environmental health data will be increasingly important to everyday decisions that affect our quality of life,” Lunden said.  


Neighborhoods, such as Northwood Estates in the Northwest corridor, are participating in the project.


“Freeways were designed in our neighborhoods after the neighborhoods were here,” said neighborhood monitor Ron Ross, President of the Northwood Estates Neighborhood Association. “These problems have been manmade. You’re seeing increased traffic on I-77. You’re seeing how redevelopment is impacting our air quality.”


AirBeam technology allows residents to monitor their air quality. Provided by Clean Air Carolina, the technology measures fine particles, which can pass through the lungs and into a person’s bloodstream. Such particles are of great concern regarding children as their lungs continue to develop.


“Hopefully we can make a conscientious change, based on that data gathered by participating neighborhoods and schools,” Ross said.  


Clean Air Carolina’s AirKeepers: Citizen Science Program includes AirKeepers like Ross, and has a presence in schools and neighborhoods, such as Historic Washington Heights Neighborhood Association, Oaklawn Park Community Improvement Association, Wilson Heights Community Organization, Northwest School of the Arts, University Park Creative Arts, Oaklawn Language Academy, JT Williams Middle School/Turning Point Academy and West Charlotte High School.


“It’s something we really need, because our communities are surrounded by freeways, trainings, garbage dumps and all types of facilities that produce exhaust and impact air quality,” Ross said.

Comments

Charlotte has a long history of air quality problems. For many years the EPA ranked Charlotte as one of the ten worst in the country. Continued population growth and expansion of highways will only make it worse.
Posted on December 13, 2016
 

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