Podcast: How an ongoing collaboration can inform us about the quality of the air we breathe

Unraveling the relationship between air quality and human health has been a critically important task for protecting public health. Traditional stationary air monitors have played a central role in tracking toxic air pollutants and ensuring levels remain below legal standards, but the data they generate cannot be used to create fine-scale maps of air quality over local areas.

An ongoing, multi-group project initiated by Environmental Defense Fund and Google Earth Outreach aims to fill this information gap by deploying Google Street View cars equipped with air quality monitors to amass one of the largest sets of mobile air pollution measurements ever assembled.

In this episode of our podcast, we talked with one of our project partners, Dr. Joshua Apte, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, about the first round of data collection, which took place in West Oakland, California. Dr. Apte walked us through the initial findings and shared his thoughts on what they mean for public health, as well as for local communities that may be disproportionately affected by air pollution.


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  1. Susan Price-Jang
    Posted October 4, 2017 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    How do I get my neighborhood on the list? RoseGlen neighborhood is south of 280 (and adjacent to it), between Leigh Ave and Meridian Ave, and north of Fruitdale. In San Jose, zip is 95128. Neighborhood consists of single family houses built in 1953-44 and two story apartment building. Local school two blocks away is Sherman Oaks Elementary School in Campbell Union School District. # of students on free or reduced fee federal lunch is about 70%.

    • Ryan O'Connell
      Posted October 9, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for listening to our podcast and for your interest in this topic. This research is still in its early phases and limited to a few predetermined locations at this point in time. However, we are currently working with the project partners to determine which communities we’ll be mapping next and appreciate your suggestion of Rose Glen.