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Community Air Monitoring Systems in California
There are a number of existing community air monitoring systems (sometimes referred to as networks, programs, projects, or studies) throughout California to provide data for and support community specific actions. These existing community air monitoring systems utilize a variety of air monitoring approaches and technologies to address community-specific air quality concerns. Air monitoring within communities is often a collaborative process and can be led by community members, community groups, and/or state and local air quality agencies. Community air monitoring data uses can range from providing localized air quality information that may help an individual make decisions to reduce their personal exposure to informing local mitigation and regulatory strategies.
This webpage summarizes ongoing community air monitoring systems in California. Each summary includes a brief background on the community air monitoring system, goals, participants, and available resources. These summaries do not fully characterize each system, and links to full overviews are provided where available. If you have questions regarding air monitoring systems in California or do not see your community's system listed below, please contact us.
Click on the map below to jump to the community air monitoring section relevant to that district.
AirWatch Bay Area
- Air Watch Bay Area is a website and app that provides digital tools for residents near refineries to access real-time air quality information, report pollution in their neighborhood, and obtain resources on air pollution.
- The website and app are hosted by a collective of California environmental justice groups and Drexel University/Carnegie Mellon staff and pull real-time information from the fenceline website and the Carnegie Melon CreateLab databases.
- Air quality data and pollution event reporting are updated in real-time and allow community members to make informed decisions regarding their daily activities.
Berkeley Atmospheric CO2 Observation Network (BEACO2N)
- BEACO2N leverages low-cost sensing technology and methods across 60 locations in the East Bay Area. High spatial resolution allows for coverage of a larger area than traditional monitors.
- Instrument "nodes" primarily quantify carbon dioxide (CO2), but recent measurements are expanding to nitrogen dioxide and ozone.
- Data is made available online in real-time, or near real-time, for community members to observe. Data is also utilized to inform atmospheric models and local air quality management policies
Community Air Risk Evaluation (CARE) Program
- Bay Area AQMD has been leading this project since 2004 to evaluate health impacts linked to air quality in communities near pollution sources. Please go to the Bay Area AQMD program website for more information.
- Program leveraged governmental, academic, non-governmental, and community groups to evaluate a broad range of pollutant exposure to the most vulnerable populations. Initial program only quantified Toxic Air Contaminates (TACs), but has expanded to PM2.5 and will include ozone, ultrafine particles, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the future.
- Data and information collected during the CARE program has informed many regulatory/mitigation measures, including: CalEnviroScreen, quantified Toxic Air Contaminate (TAC) exposure to Bay Area communities, identified diesel PM as major toxic pollutant in Bay Area, and data utilized to select communities for further monitoring or reduction plans through AB 617.
West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project
- West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP) is a community based environmental justice organization dedicated to: "achieving healthy homes, healthy jobs, and healthy neighborhoods" for those who live in West Oakland, CA.
- WOEIP has been involved in community driven research for more than 10 years and has partnered with a variety of Environmental agencies. Examples of this research include community truck traffic documentation and a citizen science particulate matter (PM) survey.
- Data collected by WOEIP was incorporated into many BAAQMD reports, utilized in mitigation discussions, and is publically available online.
Arvin Air Quality
- Arvin, CA is located about 20 miles Southwest of Bakersfield within the Central Valley. The area has a large number of emission sources/dust sources resulting in elevated levels of PM, nitrogen oxides, and ozone but very few permanent air quality monitors prior to this study. Current measurements can be found on the Arvin Air Quality website.
- A collaborative effort (Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN), Blue Tomorrow, Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment) to quantify PM2.5, PM10, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at 6 locations around Arvin.
- This study utilizes monitoring data to determine major pollutant sources in the area, educate and inform community members of the effects of poor air quality, and provide real-time data to allow community members to limit their exposure.
Great Basin Unified APCD Monitoring Network
- The District's land is dominated by valleys, which contain most of the population, and large mountains. PM (primarily from dust and wood smoke) can become "trapped" in the valleys and increase exposure. Current conditions can be observed at the Great Basin Unified APCD website.
- The GBUAPCD, in partnership with local Paiute and Shoshone tribes, operate a series of particulate matter measurement stations across the district (PM2.5 and PM10).
- Data is made available online (1 hour intervals) so community members can utilize the current PM levels to inform activities.
Pesticide Air Monitoring Program
- The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have partnered for over 10 years to conduct air sampling of pesticides. Species chosen are either toxic air contaminates (TACs), or are classified as candidate TACs. Details and an overview of programs can be found at the DPR website.
- Currently 24 hour sampling averages are taken at 8 sites statewide (5 operated by CARB, and 3 by DPR) for a suite of pesticides.
- Data is utilized to characterize community exposure to pesticides in areas near agricultural regions. Data is made public and uploaded to an online DPR database.
There are no community air monitoring systems reporting at this time. Please contact us if you are aware of a system we are missing.
Coastal Odor Complaint Investigation Project
- SCAQMD receives numerous odor complaints of natural gas, sulfur, and chemical smells in the Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, and Long Beach communities. This project provides a platform for residents to report these incidents.
- SCAQMD staff visit the location of an odor complaint, and upon verification of the odor, sample the ambient air to analyze for the presence of trace species.
- Collected data allows SCAQMD to track odor complaints and to identify emission sources in the area.
The Imperial County Community Air Monitoring Network
- The Imperial County Community Air Monitoring Network began in 2013 with funding from the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, which was provided to Tracking California (formerly the CA Environmental Health Tracking Program, a program of the Public Health Institute). The Network was a partnership of Tracking California with the Comite Civico del Valle community group and the University of Washington with the goal to quantify air pollution and to inform community members in vulnerable areas of Imperial County. For more information see the Tracking California and Identifying Violations Affecting Neighborhoods (IVAN) Air website.
- IVAN Air monitors PM2.5 (with size cuts at 0.5 um, 1.0 um, and 2.5 um) concentrations in communities utilizing low-cost Dylos 1700 PM counter.
- Real-time PM data is used to inform community members on local conditions. For example, data is used for school flag programs to help limit air pollution exposure. Data is also utilized in long-term trend analysis of Imperial County conditions.
Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study (MATES)
- MATES is a South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) led program to monitor and model air toxics in the South Coast Air Basin. MATES has completed 4 distinct study periods since 1987, with a 5th beginning in 2018.
- Each MATES study analyzed a different set of compounds (i.e. benzene, hexavalent chromium, diesel PM), but all work has been based on air toxics. MATES IV expanded beyond air toxics to include black carbon and ultrafine particles. MATES V (beginning in 2018) will include petroleum refinery-specific measurements.
- Data collected during these studies allows SCAQMD to focus work on targeted risk reduction, prioritize Environmental Justice funding, and address public inquires on air toxic impacts.
Paramount Hexavalent Chromium Monitoring and Community Air Toxics Initiative
- Paramount, CA community members notified SCAQMD of persistent metallic odors in 2013. Initial screening in the area found high levels of nickel (Ni) and hexavalent chromium (Cr6+), and these results led to broader, more extensive monitoring in the area.
- SCAQMD partnered with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to monitor Cr6+ levels in communities and specifically schools. Monitoring of airborne metals was initiated in the area near emission sources following the initial screening measurements.
- Monitoring data was used to identify emission sources, and SCAQMD worked with local industry to reduce emissions through operational changes. The success of this program led to the creation of the Community Air Toxics Initiative that works across the South Coast Air Basin to quantify airborne toxics.
San Ysidro Border Traffic Study
- San Ysidro is a community of ~30,000 residents immediately adjacent to a large border crossing from Mexico to the United States. There were no air monitoring stations within San Ysidro prior to this study, and local community groups (Casa Familiar) partnered with several universities and the state of California to install 13 monitors. The program overview can be found on the OEHHA website.
- Monitors placed in San Ysidro quantify PM2.5, ozone, nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide. Active monitoring began in 2016 and real-time data available online in August 2017.
- Real-time data informs community members on local conditions, has provided a framework for future community monitoring projects, and informed CalEnviroScreen.
SCAQMD EPA STAR Grant
- Low-cost air monitoring technologies are emerging in the field of air quality, causing a shift to larger networks of "lower cost sensors" in lieu of the traditional regulatory monitoring networks. SCAQMD began testing and evaluating lower-cost air quality sensors as part of the Air Quality Sensor Performance Evaluation Center (AQ-SPEC), and this work has expanded to include an US EPA Science To Achieve Results (STAR) grant entitled: "Engage, Educate, and Empower California Communities on the Use and Applications of 'Low-Cost' Air Monitoring Systems". The project is described in detail on the SCAQMD website.
- This grant will fund the deployment of low-cost air sensors across the South Coast Air Basin to characterize and evaluate their performance in a variety of applications.
- Collected data will inform and educate both community members and agencies on the use and applicability of emerging low-cost sensor technologies.