Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC Irvine

Enacting Environmental Justice: Community Air Monitoring in Late Industrial California

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

With the recent advent of low-cost air sensors and growing use of community science in environmental research, air quality monitoring is newly accessible to researchers outside of government and academia. Low-cost, participatory methods are increasingly used in environmental justice (EJ) advocacy to characterize local air pollution concerns, document environmental inequity, and galvanize campaigns for policy change. This dissertation examines how stakeholders mobilize scientific and moral claims about air pollution, inequality, and justice through these emergent forms of environmental knowledge production. This project is based on over three years of ethnographic fieldwork on community air monitoring (CAM) initiatives across Southern California, including interviews with activists, scientists, policymakers, regulators, and community residents in four counties, as well as sustained collaboration with a CAM project in Santa Ana, California. Each chapter analyzes how air pollution and environmental justice are enacted as matters of public concern through the technologies and practices of community air monitoring, including air quality sensing, mapmaking, community engagement, and science-to-governance pathways. This dissertation shows how CAM practices can both expand and foreclose how environmental justice is conceptualized and addressed, highlighting the risks of reproducing essentialized notions of “disadvantage,” “justice,” and “community.” As environmental justice gains momentum and visibility as a framework for understanding intersecting political, social, and environmental crises, this dissertation documents and theorizes how EJ is defined and mobilized through the work of community air monitoring.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View