"More Eyes on Polluters: The Growth of Citizen Monitoring"

"In pollution hotspots like western Pennsylvania — where petrochemical facilities are proliferating — local residents, distrustful of companies and government, are taking advantage of low-cost technologies to do their own monitoring of air, water, and noise pollution."

"On the grounds of a western Pennsylvania convent, two small white cylinders fixed under the eave of a garage are helping to monitor air in a region that has long suffered from poor air quality and that soon will face a major additional source of emissions from a vast new petrochemical plant.

The cylinders, each not much bigger than a soda can, collect data on particulates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — both potentially harmful pollutants ­— in the air surrounding the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, about 25 miles north of Pittsburgh.

The monitors are part of a network in the vicinity installed by Mark Dixon, an independent air-quality advocate and filmmaker who has been monitoring air pollution in the Pittsburgh area since 2016. He’s now focusing on an ethane cracker plant being built by the oil giant Shell at Monaca on the south bank of the Ohio River, about five miles northwest of the convent. Dixon has so far installed 14 monitors within about five miles of the plant; he aims to add six more before the Shell plant opens."

Jon Hurdle reports for Yale Environment 360 November 3, 2021.

Source: YaleE360, 11/08/2021