Measuring Air Quality in Local Neighborhoods
This press release appeared in the Record-Review on May 7, 2021.
Bedford 2030 recently launched an initiative to measure air quality and pollutants in the Bedford community. The goal is to establish an air pollution benchmark for local neighborhoods to help track impact as climate solutions are enacted as well as to ensure that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are being deployed where they are most needed and are benefiting everyone. Bedford 2030 intends to take learning from this pilot and share it with other communities.
The recently adopted Town of Bedford 2030 Climate Action Plan sets a communitywide goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2030. In bringing the community together to consider air quality on a local level, Bedford 2030 hopes to illustrate the connection between addressing climate action goals and personal health. In a recent Record Review guest column Midge Iorio, Executive Director for Bedford 2030 offered, “A growing body of research confirms increases in asthma, allergies, compromised water and threats to natural resources—all linked to greenhouse gas emissions, other pollutants and climate change.”
To gain initial learning, Bedford 2030 installed units to monitor air quality in two community locations last March. One unit is located outside a private home near Bedford Hills Elementary School and the business district. The other is located outside a private home close to downtown Katonah and 684. The units are solar-powered and cellular connected, and they were created by Clarity, a California-based company that recently received a contract to monitor air quality as part of a study in southern Los Angeles.
The Clarity monitors measure two pollutants: one is PM2.5, which is fine particles that can be emitted directly from a source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires. The other is Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), pollutants that get in the air from burning of fuel such as emissions from cars, trucks and buses, power plants, and off-road equipment. Bedford 2030 Program Manager, Mariah Okrongly notes, “Having accurate data is essential to our efforts to benefit the health of our community. We are working on a calibration process that compares our local data to an EPA monitor in White Plains to ensure we are getting accurate readings.”
Bedford 2030 hopes that monitors and their data will provide an educational tool that could be potentially leveraged in local schools and community wide to understand why our efforts to address climate change are important and relevant on a personal, community-based level. Bedford 2030’s Executive Director, Midge Iorio concluded that, “We know this is important to our community and what’s important to the community is the core of our climate action mission.”