Village Green Air Monitoring Project
Kansas City, KS
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed an innovative, solar and wind-powered air-monitoring system designed and incorporated into a park bench. The study, called the Village Green Project, is being conducted in partnership with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Bureau of Air and USD # 500 in Kansas City, KS to advance air quality measurement capabilities to states, tribes and local communities.
The prototype monitoring system is located outside the new Kansas City, KS South Branch Library.
KDHE and EPA began running the system in the spring of 2015. This project stems from a growing national interest in using new sensor technologies to learn more about air quality conditions and trends near schools, playgrounds, parks and neighborhoods.
The project's three goals are to:
Engage communities in air pollution awareness
Increase air pollution monitoring coverage
Advance EPA's ability to measure and communicate air pollution information in real-time at lower cost and maintenance.
A few questions you may be asking...
Why this is called the "Village Green Project"?
The Village Green Project got its name from history when village greens were the heart of a town where citizens came together. EPA sought to build an air monitor that would fit well into a modern "village green" environment, such as a playground, city park, or running trail. The Village Green Project design minimizes the footprint of the system, avoids the need for outside electricity, and integrates the equipment into a bench or play structure.
How does the system work?
Two solar panels and a small wind turbine charge a battery that operates the entire system. On multiple cloudy days, the system may turn off to conserve power. Solar and wind power supports a number of instruments that provide continuous, minute-by-minute measurements of air and weather. The system's air pollution sensors measure the pollutants ozone and particle pollution, which can cause health problems at elevated levels. Weather conditions such as wind speed, direction, temperature and relative humidity are also measured since they are important for understanding air quality. The air pollution and weather data are automatically sent to the Village Green Project website. The public can view the current conditions or view measurements for specific dates and times. The data is also available at the monitoring station using a smartphone.
Are these measurements tied directly to air quality regulations?
No - this is a research and educational air monitoring system using several lower cost instruments that are placed in an environment to involve the public (you!). The measurements should not be held up directly to official air quality standards, but can be explored to study how air pollution trends change with time and weather.
Why would you want to measure air pollution in more places?
Research studies tell us that local air pollution levels can be affected by pollution sources located both nearby and far away. For example, EPA's near-road research has shown that pollution levels immediately downwind of a highway can be higher than in places farther from a highway. Lower cost air monitoring technologies, like the Village Green Project, can allow researchers and citizens to monitor local air quality to understand how air pollution varies from place to place.
For additional information:
Contacts for Kansas Village Green: