Public Lab Research note


Host a community meeting to discuss your air sampling goals

by kgradow1 | September 26, 2020 05:11 26 Sep 05:11 | #24655 | #24655

Adapted from the Statistics for Action Air Quality Manual


Air quality sampling is a tool that communities can use to establish scientific evidence. However, testing can be expensive and may turn up nothing. Air samples can also be used to show improvements in air quality. This guide offers tips for simple observation, research on air emissions and air monitoring tools, and planning. Your project will be more likely to succeed if you do your homework before gathering air samples.

If you're considering setting up a sampling plan, start by inviting neighbors in the community to talk about their experiences and observations about pollution. Form a group. Read through this whole guide first, to get an overview of the whole process. Learn what air testing can and can't do for you. Discuss your overall strategy and priorities:

image description

Step 1: What is the ultimate goal?

What's the ultimate goal? Creating pressure for ongoing monitoring? Trying to relocate a classroom or change local business practice? Make distinctions between short-term and long-term goals.

Step 2: How does air testing fit that goal?

Do you want to see if levels are harmful? Look for changes over time? Link pollution to a business or source?

Step 3: Whose health are you highlighting?

Whose health are you highlighting: workers, children, pregnant women, elderly, families near a facility? Where do they live, work, go to school?

##Step 4: Who are the decision-makers you're trying to convince?

Who are the decision-makers you're trying to convince? What will convince them?

##Step 6: Will there be opposition to doing testing?

Are there powerful people, companies, or agencies who might object? Is your team ready to face those consequences?

##Step 7: Is this realistic?

Does your group have the time, energy, skills, and finances for a sustained air monitoring campaign? Will they ask the right questions at the right time? What will they do if tests are inconclusive, or don't support the cause?

Air testing CAN help you Air testing will NOT
Detect contaminants most likely responsible for health effects Reverse health effects
Show what people are exposed to Provide money for treating people
Show levels changing with time and wind direction Stop the source of the pollution

##Step 8: Decide on a question

After discussing priorities, decide on a question you want to answer. This question will help guide future decisions. Be as specific as possible. Will air monitoring help answer this question?

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Adapted from the Statistics for Action Air Quality Manual

Co-authored by Ethan Contini-Field, Martha Merson (TERC) Denny Larson, Ruth Breech, Jessica Hendricks (Global Community Monitor) Emily Marquez (Pesticide Action Network, North America) in collaboration with Global Community Monitor;Pesticide Action Network/North America; Toxics Action Center; Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League; Little Village Environmental Justice Organization; Operation Green Leaves; Pesticide Watch; New England Literacy Resource Center.

Originally published by TERC in 2014 with support from the National Science Foundation and shared with permission. Any materials posted on Public Lab are not endorsed by TERC or NSF and do not necessarily represent the views of either organization. Images courtesy of the Rini Templeton estate.


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2 Comments

@duwamishcleanup - thought you might want to give this one a read! The EJ student organizers might appreciate it too!

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Good read. any COVID tips?

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