Do you ever wonder what the air quality is right at your front door? Minnesota’s air quality, as measured by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) statewide monitoring network, is generally good. But that may not tell the whole story for the state’s urban areas. For example, pollution levels are higher along high-traffic corridors and in some industrial areas. And there are inequities; for example, low-income populations and people of color tend to live in areas that have more air pollution.
To get a better picture of how air pollution may vary across urban areas, the MPCA is starting a project to place new air quality sensors in all the ZIP codes of Minneapolis and St. Paul, thanks to a grant from the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The sensors represent a new type of technology for measuring air quality and are smaller and less expensive to operate than traditional air monitors.
The project will run for two years and will monitor fine particles, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. At least one monitor will be placed in each of the ZIP codes of Minneapolis and St. Paul (Minneapolis has 24 ZIP codes, St. Paul has 14). Larger ZIP codes may have more than one monitor.
“This project will help us answer the question we often get asked, 'What’s in my neighborhood?’,” said MPCA Assistant Commissioner David Thornton. “Our statewide monitoring network gives us a very good idea of how the air is generally, but people want to know more about what’s going on where they live, work and play.”
The MPCA and the two cities are jointly sponsoring a series of open houses to talk about the project and seek the public’s input on where to place the sensors. Open houses are scheduled for:
- Aug. 31, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Merriam Park Public Library, 1831 Marshall Ave., St. Paul
- Sept. 6, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Powderhorn Park Rec Center, 3500 15th Ave. S., Minneapolis
- Sept. 7, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Audubon Park Rec Center, 1320 29 Ave. NE, Minneapolis
- Sept. 11, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Farview Park Rec Center, 621 29th Ave. N., Minneapolis
The MPCA plans to begin placing the sensors in January 2018. Monitoring data from the project will be updated monthly on the MPCA’s website. For more information, visit the Assessing Urban Air Quality Project webpage.