Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) in the air is well known to cause serious health effects. It’s also invisible to the naked eye. We've partnered with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and citizen scientists in a pilot project using low-cost sensors which are able to detect these particles and monitor air quality across the province. By collecting and monitoring outdoor air quality data, New Brunswick Lung and its citizen scientists are helping the ECCC to improve air quality forecasting in our province, increase public understanding of possible exposure sources of PM2.5, and helping us all become better informed on protective actions we can take to reduce exposure.
Why Monitor Air Quality in New Brunswick?
The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) represents the relative health risks of air pollution on a given day. Having more observations, such as those from small sensors, helps air quality forecasters understand the extent of smoke plumes at the surface - especially during wildfires. In recent years, we’ve seen smoke transported to our region from as far away as British Columbia! ECCC air quality scientists are now investigating the usefulness of using these small sensors to augment the current NAPS network and address gaps in AQHI prediction and services.
What is Citizen Science?
Citizen science is another name for public participation in environmental research. It’s a cost-effective way of capturing more wide-spread data to extend a program’s focus area. Best of all, you don’t have to be a “scientist” to join our citizen science team! Anyone can do it, and it is a great way to ensure communities across NB are included in air quality monitoring efforts.
Being a citizen scientist can also benefit you! If you (or people you know) have sensitivities such as asthma, COPD, or cardiac conditions, wood smoke exposure can be very dangerous. Knowing your local air quality can help with the daily management of these health conditions, and even give back a sense of control over these diseases.
Interested in becoming a Citizen Scientist?
We just need your eyes (and nose!) to help us give meaning/context to the numbers the sensors record. If you see or smell smoke, check in with the Air Quality map, and let us know about it in our Facebook group, or using the #AQWatcher hashtag.
Selected Citizen Scientists will install a small Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) sensor outside of their home. They’ll be able to see what the air quality looks like at their house, and they’ll see how those measurements change during air quality events such as residential wood burning or forest fires. We ask participants to provide NB-Lung with updates and simple reports, and participate in surveys throughout the year.
If you would like to become a citizen scientist, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow our social media engagement for this project by using the #AQWatcher and #NBAQ hashtags.
Information Webinar for Air Quality Monitor Hosts
Understanding AQHI Resources