Inhalation of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is associated with a variety of adverse health outcomes including increased risk of hospital admissions as well as chronic asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Vulnerable populations include children, the elderly, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease. According to the New Hampshire State Health Profile, PM2.5 is one of the most common sources of air pollution in New Hampshire. Wintertime wood stove burning is a major determinant of PM2.5 concentrations, particularly in cities located in river valleys. While there have been previous woodsmoke change out programs, on-going public education is a critical component as, unfortunately, the vast majority of stoves exchanged in the 2015 ALA Woodstove Changeout Program were for homes outside Keene. “Real time” air monitoring data recently collected this winter continues to show substantial differences in air quality between neighborhoods in Keene.
What we are doing
INBRE Pilot grant
In Spring of 2018, Professors Nora Traviss and Thomas Webler received a pilot grant from INBRE (Idea Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence). The grant for $12,417 was used to purchase air quality monitors and other equipment and to pay two undergraduate students small stipends to work on the project during spring semester and the summer. The aims of the project were as follows:
Specific Aim 1: We will test the hypothesis that there are significant spatial and temporal differences in fine particulate matter concentrations between neighborhoods in Keene. We will compare PM concentrations between neighborhoods using state of the art, low cost, field rugged PM monitors, installed outside multiple houses across Keene; as well as compare PM concentrations with the reference State monitoring station in downtown Keene. We expect to find significant spatial differences, but not temporal differences. Appropriate validation procedures will be performed prior to installation of monitors.
Specific Aim 2: We will test the hypothesis that social media will facilitate a voluntary reduction in burning wood among participating citizens, in response to notification of air inversion forecasts. We will create a Facebook group, and recruit city residents to join the Facebook group. Then, we will post an “event” on the group page to signify an air inversion is likely, when State forecasts predict calm winds and poor air quality. The event will invite people to voluntarily not use their woodstove for the evening. We will follow-up with participants to track event participation using short surveys. This will be novel data but we expect that social media will lead to voluntary reduction in wood burning.
Lead Scientist: Professor Nora Traviss Associated Scientists: Professors Chris Brehme and Thomas Webler Partnering institutions: Southwest Regional Planning Agency and Keene High School
Following up on the work we did with the INBRE pilot grant and earlier research by Professor Traviss, we applied for an received a research grant from the EPA Region 1 Healthy Communities program.
This project focuses on children and the elderly - sensitive populations living in areas of Keene impacted by elevated fine particulate matter (PM2.5) during winter months. The source of the PM2.5 is woodsmoke.
Our goals are to: (1) support SWRPC to conduct Community Workshops in the 2018/2019 heating season to increase citizen awareness of the ongoing PM2.5 problem, EPA Burnwise Principles, and the Facebook group Keene Clean Air and voluntary compliance program (2) expand KSC’s existing air quality real time monitoring network using Purple Air PA-II SD laser particle counters to at least 10 locations in Keene (3) support KSC faculty and students to engage citizens through creation of a Keene-specific PM map interface (4) develop better predictors of localized shallow air inversions to aid in decision-making (5) combine these elements into the existing open, transparent, Keene Clean Air platform to develop a self-regulating voluntary compliance system (6) test the effectiveness of air purifiers as interventions. The long term goal is an interactive citizen science platform that engages residents and students (college and high school) that will ultimately be self-regulating and reduce air pollution during air inversions.
NH Science for Citizens Department of Environmental Studies Keene State College Keene, NH 03431
A project of students and faculty at Keene State College in collaboration with local NH state representatives.