Shared Air/Shared Action (SA2): Community Empowerment through Low-cost Air Pollution Monitoring

EPA Grant Number: R836182
Title: Shared Air/Shared Action (SA2): Community Empowerment through Low-cost Air Pollution Monitoring
Investigators: Griswold, Wendy , Erdal, Serap , Erickson, Larry E. , Johnson, Cheryl , Maghirang, Ronaldo , Merritt, Gail , Renas, Margaret , Salazar, Peggy , Urbaszewski, Brian , Wasserman, Kim
Institution: Kansas State University , Alliance for a Greener South Loop , Delta Institute , Little Village Environmental Justice Organization , People for Community Recovery , Respiratory Health Association , Southeast Environmental Task Force , University of Illinois at Chicago , University of Memphis
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: May 1, 2016 through April 30, 2019
Project Amount: $750,000
RFA: Air Pollution Monitoring for Communities (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Air


This innovative research project engages 8 partners, 4 of which are local community organizations working to improve air quality for citizens of South Chicago. It is our hypothesis that people will become more engaged in and with their environment if they are provided with relevant scientific and technical tools, including low-cost portable sensors and appropriate technical assistance. To test this hypothesis, community collaboration in planning and conducting the research is a key element.


  1. Investigate that community-led research results in improved understanding of the pollution concentrations and the development of sustainable community-specific strategies to effectively monitor pollutants, analyze and communicate results,
  2. Investigate cross-community coalition building,
  3. Investigate the ability of the coalition to leverage resources to create future coordinated action plans to reduce exposure and mitigate health risks, and
  4. Evaluate and document the collaborative community-based research process utilized. 


The proposed work will involve air pollution monitoring in four diverse communities in Chicago, using low-cost portable air pollution sensors. Using a fully integrated mixed-method design, qualitative and quantitative data will be collected to evaluate a research program in which community members in four distinctive communities (3 EJ, 1 non-EJ) operate low-cost air sensors to collaborate and develop a shared understanding of their exposure environment.

Expected Results:

Expected results include new knowledge about the use of low-cost air sensors to address community-identified concerns and the impact of participatory research strategies on that process. Additional results include a lasting coalition of communities with an in-depth understanding of their shared environment and capacity to continue working towards improved air quality, as well as a community-based air monitoring program manual that other communities can use.

Supplemental Keywords:

transformative learning, environmental justice, capacity building;