State Announces New Funding Opportunity to Support Air-Quality Sensors

The Baker-Polito Administration last week announced that $200,000 in grants are now available to communities to place 10 air-quality sensors on homes, schools or businesses to measure fine particle pollution (PM2.5) throughout local neighborhoods.

These small sensors produce data that will be displayed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow Fire and Smoke Map online, along with data from PM2.5 monitoring stations operated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). 

“Massachusetts is committed to helping communities affected by air pollution, especially those with Environmental Justice populations,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “I encourage cities and towns to partner with residents, schools, and local community groups to apply for the sensors, which will provide communities a tool to better understand local air quality and increase local awareness of fine particle pollution.”

PM2.5 is a mixture of solid particles made up of hundreds of different chemicals and liquid droplets found in the air. PM2.5 is so small that it can be inhaled deep into the lungs, may enter a person’s bloodstream, and can cause serious health problems.

“Breathing particle pollution can result in serious health conditions like asthma and respiratory illnesses, which has disproportionally affected Environmental Justice communities,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “These sensors can be used to identify sources of particle pollution so that emissions reduction and mitigation strategies can be taken to protect residents’ health. We look forward to providing air sensors to help communities collect data and develop measurable progress to ensure all families are breathing clean, healthy air.”

The air sensor program is administered by MassDEP, and the sensors – made by PurpleAir – are available to municipalities. Applications for the program must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Oct. 1.

Furthermore, the MassAir Online site provides up-to-date air quality information for Massachusetts, and the EPA’s national AirNow Fire and Smoke Map provides air quality information for the nation. Additionally, MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.

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