Understanding air quality in communities

Air monitoring equipment on a rooftop.

MPCA has long operated a statewide network of air monitors. This network samples air daily throughout the year and is designed to determine if Minnesota’s air quality meets federal standards.  For the most part the network is designed to characterize air quality on a regional basis.

But air quality may vary significantly in spot locations within the network. For example, air quality near heavily trafficked transportation corridors may be poorer than represented by network monitors.  And manufacturing or other facilities may have localized impacts on air quality.

For these and other reasons, interest has been growing in recent years to understand how air quality may differ across smaller geographic areas. Increasingly, Minnesotans are not satisfied just to know that the state’s air quality meets state and federal standards. They want to know more about what’s in the air in the communities and neighborhoods where they live, work and play.

To further the MPCA’s goals of improving air quality in urban centers and reducing inequalities in pollution exposure, the agency is using smaller-scale monitoring to gain a better understanding of how air quality may vary across communities.

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