2017 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 , Chang, Cindy , Harris, James , Crews, Krysten , Cicutto, Lisa , McCombs, Michelle , McCullough, Molly , 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: August 1, 2017 through July 30,2018
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 group study. The ambient monitoring portion of this project will provide information to community members about the neighborhood outdoor air quality, including air quality changes associated with the I-70 expansion project. Furthermore, a citizen science framework will be developed over the 3-year project, as a template for guiding future community projects.       

Progress Summary:

The period covered by this report aligned with the pilot air monitoring and focus group study phase, which aimed to test the monitoring protocols, equipment and data communication materials for the longitudinal study. Accomplishments include—

  1. Conducted pilot ambient air quality and personal exposure monitoring: The ambient air monitoring protocol was successfully used for the 3-week monitoring campaign in August 2017, involving a community partner. The ambient air monitoring protocol described procedures for sensor preparation, field deployment and retrieval, and data download and transfer. We set up 17 monitoring sites within the Globeville, Elyria, Swansea (GES) community, including three sites collocated with federal reference monitoring stations operated by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Air Quality Program and the City of Denver Department of Environmental Health. In November and December 2017, the personal exposure monitoring pilot was conducted with 10 adult participants to test the personal exposure study protocol. The protocol includes wearing the personal exposure monitoring platform for 72 hours and completing data collection forms that help identify air pollution exposure events and indoor air contaminant sources, evaluate effectiveness of data communication approaches on air pollution knowledge translation, and assess the wearability of the personal monitor. The feedback from the pilot study provided invaluable information for improving protocol and ensured the feasibility of the longitudinal study.
  2. Conducted focus group study: The purpose of the focus group study was to identify preferences for data displays and health messaging to support informed decision making and to inform knowledge translation approaches for our Science To Achieve Results project. Eight focus groups were completed with 50 participants, representing stakeholder groups of health providers, community organizations, health advocacy organizations and community residents. They provided recommendations on features that promoted or limited effective communication of sensor data and health messages. 
  3. Developed longitudinal study plan: A couple of Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting meetings were held after the pilot monitoring and focus group studies. The CAC reviewed pilot and focus group studies data, selected longitudinal ambient monitoring study sites, and discussed reapplying for properties access agreements. Based on the pilot study results and recommendation from the CAC, changes have been made to sensor platform and questionnaires to improve longitudinal data quality to meet the study goal. The ambient air monitoring collocation study as part of seasonal preparation for the longitudinal study was performed at National Jewish Hospital AQS site to check the accuracy and precision of the MicroPEM sensors for 3 weeks in June 2018, combined with the field team refresher training. 
  4. Started the longitudinal study: The longitudinal ambient air monitoring study has started at 11 sites selected by the CAC since July 3, 2018, for collecting PM2.5 and black carbon data during the summer. For the longitudinal personal monitoring study, the National Jewish Health Institutional Review Board has reviewed and approved the longitudinal personal study protocol. The protocol was approved by the EPA Human Subjects Research Review Official, and participant recruitment and enrollment has started.

Future Activities:

Over the next year, the longitudinal study will be conducted. Planned activities include ambient air quality monitoring, personal exposure monitoring, and study participants’ knowledge translation evaluation during three seasonal monitoring campaigns. A town hall meeting with the GES community will be held at the end of the longitudinal study to share the study results and to evaluate the knowledge translated from the data presented at the meeting. Results from the study will be used to develop best practices for citizen science framework.


Journal Articles:

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

Supplemental Keywords:

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

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2016 Progress Report
  • 2018 Progress Report