According to AirNow.gov, ground-level ozone and airborne particles (like those generated by wildfires) are the two pollutants that pose the greatest threat to human health in this country. EPA developed the Air Quality Index (AQI) to make information available about the health effects of the five most common air pollutants, and how to avoid their effects.
You can help make the data more accurate and granular by sharing your own local observations. We’ve highlighted ways to do that, below. Most require little or no previous experience or special equipment. If they do require equipment, it’s possible your local library provides resources. Your health comes first, so take appropriate precautions before participating in any project. Sign up for EnviroFlash to receive free local Air Quality updates: https://www.enviroflash.info/signup.cfm
The SciStarter Team
Wildfire smoke hasn’t just impacted visibility. ISeeChangers are reporting itchy and burning eyes, overwhelming smells and daily routines upended as outdoor activities are forced to cancel.How is the wildfire smoke impacting your week? Share photos, videos, air quality measurements and stories on ISeeChange, a free app and website.
Use this free mobile app from the EPA to evaluate health effects from wildland fire smoke and stay up-to-date on local air quality information. Find more “smoke ready” resources from the EPA.
AirBeam is an easy to use, low-cost, palm-sized air quality instrument that uses the AirCasting platform to measures hyperlocal concentrations of harmful microscopic particles in the air, known as particulate matter, (that’s what’s in the wildfire smoke) as well as humidity and temperature.
Check your library to see if they have an AirBeam you can borrow. If not, share this page with them so they can offer it in the future.
EPA has engaged the public in air quality monitoring through research grants and equipment loan programs that help communities improve understanding of air pollution and related health effects, address unique air quality challenges and potentially reduce harmful air pollution exposures.
Upcoming SciStarter LIVE! events:
Jun 13: How to become a SciStarter Ambassador at your local library. We want YOU to become a SciStarter Ambassador at your local library! Tune in to learn what this library program is all about and how ambassadors can make a difference bringing citizen science to their local community. Register.
Jun 20: Photography 101: Here’s how to take great photos with your phone that can be used for science. Many citizen science projects involve snapping photos to provide scientists with valuable data. But what makes a good photo? We’ll walk through tips for taking awesome photos that can be used for identifying organisms and more in projects like eBird and during BioBlitz events with iNaturalist like the City Nature Challenge. Register.
In case you missed it: Last week we learned how to shoot and upload photos of plastic pollution, impaired water quality, loss of coastal access and sea-level rise to the Save the Waves App, and the impact your observations have on protecting coastal ecosystems.
Citizen Science Podcast
With any pursuit, there are casual dabblers and there are hardcore enthusiasts, and citizen science is no different. In this episode, we’ll meet some serious CitSci volunteers, some of whom have gone on to pursue full-time careers in science.
Discover more citizen science on the SciStarter calendar. Did you know your SciStarter dashboard helps you track your contributions to projects? Complete your profile to access free tools. Want even more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!