2016 Progress Report: Monitoring the Air in Our Community: Engaging Citizens in Research

EPA Grant Number: R836187
Title: Monitoring the Air in Our Community: Engaging Citizens in Research
Investigators: Cho, Seung-Hyun , Cicutto, Lisa , Hawthorne, Wendy , Crews, Krysten , McCullough, Molly , Harris, James , McCombs, Michelle , Doraiswamy, Prakash
Current Investigators: Cho, Seung-Hyun , Cicutto, Lisa , Crews, Krysten , Hawthorne, Wendy
Institution: Research Triangle Institute , National Jewish Health , Groundwork Denver
Current Institution: Research Triangle Institute , Groundwork Denver , National Jewish Health
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: May 1, 2016 through April 30, 2019 (Extended to April 30, 2020)
Project Period Covered by this Report: May 1, 2016 through April 30,2017
Project Amount: $749,837
RFA: Air Pollution Monitoring for Communities (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Airborne Particulate Matter Health Effects , Particulate Matter


The objective of this project is to learn how communities can use low-cost air quality monitors to understand their exposure to air pollution and take action to protect their health. During this study, participants will receive data about their exposure to both indoor and outdoor air pollution. Participants will engage with the data through various approaches (written reports, personal exposure coaching, smart phone applications), allowing for the effectiveness of different knowledge translational approaches to be evaluated for their role in supporting behavioral modifications to decrease exposure to air pollutants. This project also aims to identify audience-specific air quality data presentation needs and preferences to support understanding and interpretation of air quality data. Through focus groups, researchers hope to learn how to present air quality data to best inform citizens, community representatives, environmental health professionals, health care providers, researchers, and local government officials. Furthermore, a citizen science framework will be developed over the three-year project, as a template for guiding future community projects.

The ambient monitoring portion of this project will provide information to community members about the outdoor air quality in their neighborhood. Monitoring data will help to inform all phases (baseline, during, post) of the I-70 expansion project, serving as a resource for understanding the relocation of the highway. Several air quality monitors used in this study will be co-located with City and State air quality monitors, allowing for the comparison of low-cost air quality monitors to that of expensive “gold standard” equipment. Additionally, the density of the ambient sensor network will help to inform spatial-temporal air quality patterns in the GES neighborhood.

Progress Summary:

  • Site selection for ambient monitoring is complete. Active data collection for all GES community sites will commence will occur for the first three weeks of August, 2017. This process involved discussing alternative options for deployment of the ambient monitoring sensor network, after it was learned that utility poles were unuseable. To support this project, bi-weekly phone calls were held among project staff and CAC members. Collaboration with the City of Denver Environmental Health Department, Denver Public Schools (DPS) and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) ocurred through MOUs to grant property access. Air quality monitors will be located at parks, event complexes, and schools in the GES neighborhood.
  • All data collection forms for the Personal Exposure Monitoring pilot study of this EPA STAR project were developed including a personal exposure action plan template, exposure diary, household assessment questionnaire, home evaluation, knowledge assessment, air quality report feedback questionnaire, and monitor wearability questionnaire.
  • All data collection forms and interview/focus group guides for the Informational Needs and Preferences study were developed and reviewed.
  • National Jewish Institutional Review Board reviewed and approved the protocol and materials related to the conduct of the Pilot Personal Exposure Monitoring and Informational Needs and Preferences study and these were approved by the EPA Human Subjects Research Review Official (HSRRO).
  • Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings were held to keep stakeholders informed of project activities and to inform key aspects of this project with participating members from EPA Region 8, City of Denver Environmental Health, American Lung Association of Colorado, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative, Regional Air Quality Council and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). CAC members supported and informed all STAR projects. Their participation in the process is instrumental.
  • The citizen science framework and blueprint for this project was initiated and will continue to be worked on as the project progresses.
  • Our STAR project was featured as a Citizen Science spotlight on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Facebook and Twitter pages during Air Quality Awareness week. This post can be accessed here: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/AP_AQAW_Friday2017.pdf.
  • The study design and plan was poster-presented at the 2016 National Ambient Air Monitoring Conference in St. Louis, MO on August 8-11, 2016. 

Future Activities:

RTI Co-PI Seung-Hyun Cho organized a symposium titled ““Integrating Exposure Science Across Diverse Communities” for 2017 International Society of Exposure Science meeting (Research Triangle Park, NC; October 15-19, 2017) with 4 other grantees of the program to present the first-year study results. The symposium abstract and individual abstract by each grantee were accepted. The RTI-NJH team’ presentation will describe the first-year study activities and spatial and temporal characteristics of ambient air quality in the GES community. 

Over the next year, the pilot ambient air quality monitoring, pilot personal exposure monitoring, and informational needs and preferences studies will be completed.  These studies are important to ensure that data collection protocols are effective and appropriate and that reports for sharing air quality information meet the needs of citizens.  Following the completion of the ambient monitoring pilot study, data will be reviewed to determine the best locations for monitor placement during the year-long study. Research personnel will review all data collection forms used in the pilot projects to make sure that they are capturing the intended data and that our study procedures/protocols are acceptable to participants and working as anticipated.   Results from the informational needs and preferences study will be used to develop best practices for sharing air quality data. The framework for citizen science will continue to be added to as the project continues.  

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 7 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Air quality, exposure reduction, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, exposure, risk, health effects, indoor air, outdoor air, human health, health effects, citizen science, environmental health literacy, health literacy, community health

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2017 Progress Report
  • 2018 Progress Report