Ron Williams presentation on the EPA Citizen Science Air Monitor (CSAM)

Yesterday, I got an email from a friend telling me that a webinar on Citizen Science was underway, held by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

I jumped online, just in time to hear Ron Williams‘ presentation on the Citizen Science Toolbox, and I am glad I did!

Ron is a scientist with the U.S. EPA National Exposure Research Laboratory, and an expert on human exposures to complex environmental mixtures.

Ron’s presentation was very informative.  He showed a slide of the Citizen Science Air Monitor (above) one of which was recently installed at the Ironbound Community Corporation in Newark, NJ, and shared a lot of useful information.

 A few key takeways for me:

  • The CSAM is a completely automated, turnkey system. 
  • The Office of Research and Development tests almost every potential citizen science air monitoring device that comes on the market.
  • Many don’t work or don’t work properly, and few come with necessary information on their limitations (such as operating temperature) or with good instructions.
  • The EPA provides feedback on the monitors to the manufacturers, and they have been improving them. 
  • Many Particulate Matter monitors need shielding from light, or return erroneously high PM readings.
  • EPA is testing currently testing a number of low-cost monitors in Denver and Atlanta.
  • Most inexpensive air quality monitors have an operational life of about a year, because the sensors degrade over time.
  • They are also building their own monitors.
For more information:
  • NIEHS was kind enough to send us Ron’s presentation, and the others presented during the webinar, which we’ve posted in the MFN Library