ST. LOUIS – A unique, high-tech project is now providing real-time information about the air quality in St. louis neighborhoods.
Pastors, environmentalists, and Washington University in St. Louis engineers are collaborating on AirWatch St. Louis, a project to measure the air quality in disenfranchised neighborhoods.
“Part of our theology is based on the understanding of the book of Genesis, that says God didn’t give us dominion over the Earth but responsibility for it,” said Pastor Kris Avise-Rouse, Epiphany Church of Christ.
The founders of Epiphany Church of Christ never could have imagined it would have an air sensor on the roof. It’s one of 15 sensors placed on churches in underserved neighborhoods.
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“One of the inequities with health effects was that, typically, in areas where it’s more industrialized, it’s more traffic, people living in close proximities to roadways, children and people, in general, are more likely to have asthma,” said Tyler Cargill, Washington University engineer.
AirWatch St. Louis is a partnership among the nature conservancy, engineers, and Metropolitan Congregations United. Project organizers say it goes deeper than EPA measurements.
“The EPA measures in a certain area and tries to say that’s what the air quality is for the entire region,” Cargill said. “We’re using our sensors to figure out the actual pockets of a certain area of St. Louis and how the air quality is there.”
The AirWatch St. Louis project provides real-time information on the current air quality in the neighborhoods.
“Without data, it’s real hard to steer policy,” Avise-Rouse said. “With data, we can go to a legislator and say, ‘Hey look, we’ve got the numbers right here. This is something we need you to work on.’”