Funded by the Institute of the Museum and Library Services, the RVAir project works with community collaborators to help measure air quality throughout Richmond.
Community science is a collaboration between scientists and public volunteers to gather new knowledge about the world. Community science can transform research and communities. For example, over the last 10 years, 31,000 volunteers have classified 350,000 images of space! The Science Museum’s 2017 project Throwing Shade mobilized volunteers and partners from around Richmond to evaluate urban heat vulnerability. Data collected by these diligent volunteers helped us to show that temperatures in Richmond during a heat wave can vary as much as 16 °F from the coolest to the warmest places.
The Museum’s current community science project is studying air quality in Richmond neighborhoods and we need you! We need individuals and community partners to help us measure local concentrations of airborne pollution known as particulate matter (PM), a mixture of microscopic particles in the air that has been linked with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
The National Asthma and Allergy Foundation consistently ranks Richmond as the 12th worst city in the U.S. for asthma sufferers. Why might this be?
Air quality ratings for the entire Richmond area are based on data collected that represents the regional "airshed." We know from studies in other cities that local changes in the environment such as wide streets, traffic volume, close proximity to interstates and the number of trees lining streets can significantly change the amount of pollution in the air we breathe at the hyper-local level.
By getting local experts (you!) to help us get locally-specific air quality data throughout Richmond, we can help create home-grown solutions to Richmond’s climate resiliency challenge.
With collaborative community science projects like RVAir, you get to be part of the magical journey of science by helping collect important information that will have a positive lasting value.
Want to help us study air quality in Richmond? It’s as easy as taking a stroll! Join a scheduled RVAir meetup. These are family friendly and great ways to get young explorers into science.
During each outing, which start and end from various locations around the city, participants carry or attach to their bike or mobility device a small AirBeam II particulate matter sensor which continuously collects data as the volunteer travels on the route.
We need collaborators willing to host a small, outdoor PurpleAir PM monitor at their home, business, community organization, school, etc. The sensor is about the size of a softball, and it must have access to wifi and an outdoor power outlet. The sensor tracks long-term air quality data that is publicly available online.
To see all the data being collected by PurpleAir sensors, go here.
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services MA-20-19-0255-19.