Air Pollution

Exposure to air pollution, defined as a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air can affect everyone’s health. Research shows that poor indoor air quality in schools and offices is related to decreased concentration, lower productivity, and it contributes to many health problems including asthma attacks, headaches, fatigue and nausea. Children are particularly susceptible to the negative impacts of air pollution. According to data from UNICEF and the World Health Organization, continuous exposure in childhood can lead to permanent respiratory health issues such as asthma and lung cancer.

Kids spend about six hours in school breathing the air inside and outside of the school facilities. Many schools and childcare centers in urban areas are near industrial facilities and high traffic roads. In addition, pollution sources such as idling buses, energy generation facilities, and chemicals in cleaning products can contribute to overall air pollution in schools. In order to tackle this problem, it is first necessary to understand and identify the sources of the air pollutants and, where and when they impact vulnerable populations of students. By monitoring air quality, schools can predict, plan, and manage solutions to reduce exposure for those most vulnerable, and to mitigate and improve the air quality in their centers.

Earthwatch launched Operation Healthy Air (OHA) in Southern California with funding from NASA to engage community members in assessing fluctuations in ozone and air temperature around their homes and test whether local landscaping (e.g. trees, gardens and parks) influences the well-being of their community.

Our Programs

Operation Healthy Air

Earthwatch launched Operation Healthy Air (OHA) in Southern California with funding from NASA to engage community members in assessing fluctuations in ozone and air temperature around their homes and test whether local landscaping (e.g. trees, gardens and parks) influences the well-being of their community.

Earthwatch expanded Operation Healthy Air (OHA) in 2019 to Boston, MA in partnership with local schools and community centers to specifically look at particulate matter. Additionally, we have expanded this work to Delhi, India in partnership with the Earthwatch India office and their work within local schools. This project uses low-cost air monitoring sensors known as Purple Air Sensors.

Interested in Getting Involved?

Contact us at OHA@earthwatch.org.

Install a PurpleAir Sensor and Start Monitoring Air Quality.

Download the PurpleAir Installation Guide and learn how to install your PurpleAir sensor!

Application and Program Details for Community Partners

  • In person Kick-off meeting  
    • Both parties will agree on expectation and objectives of the project 
    • Partner or Air Quality Champion will convene meeting with interested parties (i.e. facilities manager, head of IT at school, other) 
    • Earthwatch will facilitate and lead discussion 
  • Fill out a Needs Assessment [link to OHA needs assessment. 
  • We will provide and support the deployment of 2–3 PurpleAir air quality sensors 
    • Air Quality Champion monitors and maintains sensors for 6 months minimum 
    • Earthwatch provides support troubleshooting and other issues as needed 
  • Education on Data interpretation
    • Earthwatch leads and hosts (provides guidance document) 
    • Earthwatch provides support to class, teacher or Air Quality Champion to better understand the data from this project through an in-person engagement 
  • Earthwatch provides snapshot report on patterns collected at specific site 
  • Action Planning 
    • With support from Earthwatch, you will produce an Action Plan as a result of the workshop
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