Clean Air Society building air quality monitoring network

Michael Mehta

Clean Air Society

Tuesday, August 23 2016

The Gabriola Island Clean Air Society is building Canada’s first distributed, low-cost, air quality monitoring network using citizen scientists. 

This technology comes from PurpleAir and it will help achieve the following objectives on Gabriola. 

First, there is no air quality monitoring done on Gabriola Island on a regular basis. This equipment provides real-time, 24 hour data. Second, the network of monitors may help provide early warning to the fire department and other emergency responders regarding fire threats.

 Think of it like having smoke detectors in your home but in this case in your community. 

Third, a new proposal to create five anchorages for large ships off the shores of the island means that this network will provide baseline data on existing air quality plus track any changes resulting from ship activity. 

Fourth, the network will also allow the Clean Air Society to understand more fully the relative contribution of off-island point sources of air pollution including an active pulp and paper operation in Nanaimo and Duke Point operations. 

Lastly, the network of sensors can help identify pollution hotspots from residential activities including illegal outdoor burning, garbage incineration, and hazardous domestic woodburning practices - all of which have an indisputable adverse impact on human health and the environment. 

By the end of this past week we had four monitors operating and plan to have several more over time. Results from the monitors can be seen at map.purpleair.org