Sensors carried by cars begin to measure air quality in New York


Mobile air sensors mounted on specialized vehicles are now criss-crossing the streets of the Bronx and Manhattan as part of a new $3 million state initiative to monitor air quality, the governor recently announced. Kathy Hochul.

The initiative, which uses a mobile surveillance fleet provided by environmental technology company Aclima in partnership with Google Public Sector, a division of the internet giant which started two weeks ago to support local communities. The program was first announced last September during the state’s Climate Week.

The New York Air Watch initiative was also launched in Buffalo and the Capital Region. Six more communities, including Brooklyn, Queens, Mount Vernon/Yonkers and Hempstead, will begin the air monitoring program by this fall.

Hochul hailed the initiative as a major step toward understanding air quality issues in “areas overloaded with environmental pollution.” And New York scientists who have conducted similar projects in the past said the new program can help individual neighborhoods better understand their health risks.

“As New York continues to chart a greener path to make our state cleaner and healthier, we are also correcting decades of environmental injustices that have burdened disadvantaged communities for far too long,” Hochul said in a press release. . “As someone who grew up in the shadow of a steel mill that contributed to orange skies and pollution in Lake Erie, I know firsthand the urgency of our fight against air pollution and the climate change.”

By sending Aclima vehicles to roam target communities, state officials hope to gather hyperlocal data that could help understand hotspots of air pollutants like greenhouse gases or particulates, which can worsen conditions like the ‘asthma. The data will be analyzed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in partnership with community organizations and local authorities in each region to “identify and implement solutions to reduce harmful emissions,” the statement said. hurry.

The initiative plans to “measure air pollution on a block-by-block level at different times, days and seasons. Altogether, the monitoring will provide an initial review of air quality sources at the community level for further assessment. Previous Aclima Studies have mounted sensors inside Google’s Street View cars driving through California.

Darby Jack, an associate professor at Columbia University who studies air pollution and is not affiliated with the state initiative, said hyperlocal data could be so precise that it could measure the difference in air quality along a street, from curbs to mid-block – and provide insight into where solutions should be targeted. Jack started an air monitoring project a few years ago which involved putting sensors on cyclists.

“You can just see what’s going on at a very granular level. And that’s the real value,” Jack said. “I don’t know of any other way to achieve this level of granularity, but also with good coverage, other than mobile monitoring.”

The state initiative also plans to award grants to community groups that are involved in air quality monitoring with support for training, the purchase of air monitoring equipment and sensor technology, as well as community outreach and education.

“By launching this historic statewide air quality and greenhouse gas monitoring initiative, we will develop strategies to address air quality issues in the most vulnerable communities. New York’s vulnerable communities while contributing to the state’s key climate goals,” Hochul said.

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