- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Provides 292 Air Sensors to Monitor Local Air Pollution Levels in 39 Communities
Edmund Coletta, MassDEP – Director of Public Affairs
BOSTON — In an effort to increase awareness of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution levels, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced that 292 air sensors have been awarded to 39 communities across the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) will utilize $81,468 in grant funding to purchase the small air sensors and provide them to municipalities to measure PM2.5 levels in their communities for a period of one year.
“Particulate matter can be a significant airborne pollutant that affects the public health in communities throughout the state,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “By providing air sensors to municipalities to measure their air quality, our Air Sensor Grant Program highlights the Commonwealth’s dedication to working directly with local communities, to effectively assess and improve air quality across the state.”
PM2.5 is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air and is so small that it can be inhaled deep into the lungs and may even enter a person’s bloodstream. Breathing PM2.5 in the air can lead to adverse health effects, including aggravated asthma and other respiratory and cardio-pulmonary illnesses. By receiving sensors through MassDEP’s grant program, municipalities will be able to work with residents, schools, and community groups to measure PM2.5 levels and increase awareness of local air quality conditions and identify ways to better protect public health. As part of its commitment to advancing equity, diversity, and environmental justice (EJ), MassDEP prioritized projects with sensor placements in or near communities with EJ populations, as well as projects partnering with residents, schools and local organizations that work on public health and EJ issues. Out of all the projects receiving sensors, 56 percent are in communities with EJ populations that often experience disproportionate effects of air pollution.
“Continuing the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to environmental justice and directing state resources to benefit communities with EJ populations, the Air Sensor Grant Program is partnering with 39 communities – including 22 with EJ populations – to increase awareness and understanding of local air pollution issues,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “By placing these air sensors around communities, we can identify potential areas where mitigation efforts can be directed to help protect public health.”
The following municipalities will receive sensors to monitor air quality in their communities: Buckland, Chatham, Dalton, East Longmeadow, Egremont, Milton, Northborough, Oak Bluffs, Oxford, Sheffield, Southborough, Templeton and Uxbridge – 5 air sensors each; Granby – 6 air sensors; Billerica, Braintree, Longmeadow, Marblehead, Middleborough and Peabody – 7 air sensors each; Acushnet, Clinton, Lynnfield, Medway and Saugus – 8 air sensors each; Westfield – 9 air sensors; and Boston, Freetown, Greenfield, Holbrook, Lancaster, Lawrence, Leicester, Milford, Needham, North Adams, Plymouth, Somerset and West Springfield – 10 air sensors each.
“Ensuring clean air and protecting residents from harmful pollutants is always a worthwhile investment,” said State Senator John Cronin (D-Lunenberg). “I am thankful to the Baker-Polito Administration for their efforts to address this unmet need and for their shared commitment to keeping our communities healthy and safe.”
“I am grateful for the Baker-Polito Administration and MassDEP for their continued support of our public health as it relates to the environment,” said State Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton). “These sensors are critical to detecting fine particulate matter that can aggravate health issues in individuals. By providing these sensors to communities, MassDEP is empowering our municipalities to be proactive while monitoring the PM2.5 pollution levels.”
“Oxford has always shown commitment to the health and well-being of all of its residents,” said State Representative Joseph McKenna (R-Webster). “This grant from the Massachusetts DEP provides another tool to further that mission by ensuring that Oxford has clean, unpolluted air to breathe.”
The “PurpleAir” sensors being distributed through the grant program are used by a variety of governments, private organizations, and citizens to measure outdoor PM2.5 levels. Once installed, the sensors measure PM2.5 levels in “real time” and sensor data is transmitted to the PurpleAir Map, where it can be viewed through any smart device. The sensor data also can be viewed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow Fire and Smoke Map together with data from state-operated regulatory PM2.5 monitors.
MassDEP’s mission is to protect and enhance the Commonwealth’s natural resources – air, water and land – to provide for the health, safety and welfare of all people, and a clean and safe environment for future generations. In carrying out this mission, MassDEP commits to address and advance environmental justice and equity for all people of the Commonwealth, provide