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 , Crews, Krysten , Cicutto, Lisa , Hawthorne, Wendy
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, 2021)
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


Our hypothesis is that communities can use low-cost sensors to understand the air quality in their neighborhood and their personal exposure to pollutants that empowers them to take actions to protect their health. We will pursue a community focus to perform two specific aims to prove this hypothesis. Aim 1: Identify audience-specific air quality data presentation needs and preferences to support understanding and interpretation of data. Various stakeholders use local air quality and personal exposure data. Each group of users will have different uses for the data and knowledge bases for interpreting the data. As a result, they have varying needs and preferences for quantities of data and presentation formats. Aim 2: Evaluate the effectiveness of different knowledge translational approaches for supporting behavior modifications to minimize exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollutants. The ultimate purpose of monitoring personal exposure is to emower individuals to modify behaviors to reduce their exposure to potentially harmful pollutants. Multiple approaches are available for delivering and presenting ambient air quality and personal exposure data to specific audiences and for supporting families to interpret the data and make decisions about whether action is needed and what that action should be.


Our study community is Globeville, Elyria Swansea (GES), an environmental justice community north of downtown Denver. The low-cost sensors we will deploy are the RTI MicroPEMâ„¢ for PM2.5 and the Cairpol NO2 CairClip. For Aim 1, we will assess preferences for data presentation styles for multiple stakeholders, including GES residents. Iterative focus groups will continually refine the format and spatial-temporal resolution. We will conduct a pilot study to collect personal exposure and ambient air quality data for use in the focus groups, and to assess air pollution spatial-temporal variability, sensor performance, and the ability of citizen scientists to collect the data. For Aim 2, we will perform a staged knowledge transfer and behavior modification evaluation during a three-season personal exposure and ambient air quality study. We will provide individualized action plans for reducing air pollution exposure and different modalities of knowledge transfer. The three modalities selected are (1) personal exposure data, (2) the first mode plus ambient air quality data, and (3) the second mode with decision making support.

Expected Results:

The major outcome from this research will be a framework to empower, support, and guide future communities to design and conduct air quality monitoring studies using low-cost sensors to address their specific concerns. The GES community will benefit from their participation in this research by gaining information to understand the current air pollution sources in their community, knowledge to confront future air pollution challenges, and confidence they can reduce their exposures to air pollution. The scientific community will gain effective translation of environmental health research to public health actions that can be implemented by citizen scientists.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 7 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

criteria pollutants, instruments, residents, community-based, survey, information exchange;

Relevant Websites:

RTI Newsroom Media Release Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2016 Progress Report
  • 2017 Progress Report
  • 2018 Progress Report
  • 2019