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Combining Community Engagement and Scientific Approaches in Next-Generation Monitor Siting: The Case of the Imperial County Community Air Network.

  • Author(s): Wong, Michelle
  • Bejarano, Esther
  • Carvlin, Graeme
  • Fellows, Katie
  • King, Galatea
  • Lugo, Humberto
  • Jerrett, Michael
  • Meltzer, Dan
  • Northcross, Amanda
  • Olmedo, Luis
  • Seto, Edmund
  • Wilkie, Alexa
  • English, Paul
  • et al.

Air pollution continues to be a global public health threat, and the expanding availability of small, low-cost air sensors has led to increased interest in both personal and crowd-sourced air monitoring. However, to date, few low-cost air monitoring networks have been developed with the scientific rigor or continuity needed to conduct public health surveillance and inform policy. In Imperial County, California, near the U.S./Mexico border, we used a collaborative, community-engaged process to develop a community air monitoring network that attains the scientific rigor required for research, while also achieving community priorities. By engaging community residents in the project design, monitor siting processes, data dissemination, and other key activities, the resulting air monitoring network data are relevant, trusted, understandable, and used by community residents. Integration of spatial analysis and air monitoring best practices into the network development process ensures that the data are reliable and appropriate for use in research activities. This combined approach results in a community air monitoring network that is better able to inform community residents, support research activities, guide public policy, and improve public health. Here we detail the monitor siting process and outline the advantages and challenges of this approach.

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