Looking Ahead With CleanAIRE NC Citizen Science

Maria SharovaCleanAIRE NC Citizen Scienceby Maria Sharova, CleanAIRE NC Citizen Science Program Manager

The Clean Air Carolina Citizen Science Program started in 2016, and has grown across the state over the last five years. As our organization has grown, so has our work, and we are committed to fighting climate change and environmental injustices while advocating for clean air. As part of the name change to CleanAIRE NC or “Action and Innovation to Restore the Environment,” we wanted to do a thorough review of the Citizen Science monitoring program. How many monitors have we sent out? How successful have we been? Where should we focus on next? 

We worked with Eastern Research Group (ERG) to assess the existing network of PurpleAir monitors across the state. ERG also helped develop a way for us to be able to tell which monitors are up and collecting data, and made suggestions for areas where we should focus our monitoring efforts next. ERG’s findings confirmed most of our monitors are at private locations, and monitors that are up and running are collecting data in neighborhoods near emission sources like roadways. 

You can read a summary of the report here. The full report is available upon request. To access the full report please email me at [email protected].

Over the coming months we will be working to get the monitors that are down back up and running, and will be increasing the number of organizational monitor hosts like schools and libraries. We are also developing a support network for citizen scientists to answer questions and provide regular reports on their monitors.

This photo shows PM2.5 readings from PurpleAir monitors across North Carolina on the evening of July 4th, 2021. Emissions from things like grills and fireworks can really increase PM2.5 levels!

CleanAIRE NC will continue to advocate for the health of all North Carolinians (check out our NC Clinicians for Climate Action network), and we want to advance this driving force in the Citizen Science program too. We will be placing future monitors in counties with lower health rankings, near sources of emissions (like Animal Feeding Operations, and Title V facilities), and near vulnerable groups (like schools and daycare centers). If you’re interested in supporting our work, or becoming a monitor host please email [email protected] to learn more.

We are excited about the future direction of our Citizen Science program, and will be incorporating the feedback you’ve given us into the next phase of the program.  Thank you for your continued support – we could not do the work we do without you!

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