23 June 2024
Climate Change Awareness Enhanced by New York Students

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In the fight against climate change—a critical global challenge that threatens ecosystems, may inundate cities, and poses risks of widespread suffering—increasing climate change awareness is paramount. New York students are contributing to this effort by engaging in a citizen science project that tracks air pollution, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of the complex impacts of climate change on their immediate environment.

Pollution-tracking citizen science project offers New York students a breath of fresh air



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Climate change is one of the biggest issues of the 21st century, a crisis that affects the fate of the entire world as well as our place in it. A warming Earth will destroy ecosystems, flood cities, and lead to countless suffering and death for people worldwide. Part of the challenge of dealing with climate change is helping people understand its complex impacts.

Empowering Students with Real-Time Data

In a recent study published in The Physics Teacher journal, researchers from Fordham University partnered with middle and high schools in the Bronx and Manhattan to engage students in a citizen science project. The project, called Fordham Regional Environmental Sensor for Healthy Air (FRESH Air), aimed to improve air quality data while educating the community about the effects of climate change.

Students were provided with commercial air quality sensors and kits to build their own, which allowed them to collect indoor and outdoor air pollution measurements at their schools. Through this process, students were able to learn about one of the most immediate effects of climate change – air quality.

Connecting Air Quality to Climate Change

The researchers behind FRESH Air identified asthma, especially childhood asthma, as a major concern in the Bronx community. They recognized that respiratory diseases like asthma have a strong connection to air quality, which is negatively impacted by the changing climate. This became the focal point of the project – to educate the Bronx community about climate change through the negative impacts of air quality that are adversely affecting them on a daily basis.

By using the air quality sensors and analyzing the data, students were able to make connections between the quality of their air and the health of the planet. For example, in June 2023, students witnessed an orange haze over New York City due to extensive wildfires in eastern Canada, which were a consequence of the warming climate. This firsthand experience helped them understand the direct connection between the changing climate and the air they breathe.

Highlighting Disparities in Air Quality

The data collected through FRESH Air not only revealed the impacts of climate change but also highlighted disparities between schools in low-income and high-income communities. Some schools had indoor air quality closely tracking outdoor air quality, indicating that they were not effectively filtering out particulate matter. This exposed students and staff to potential respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

This study shed light on the asymmetric distribution of pollution, showing that some communities are disproportionately affected by poor air quality. By bringing attention to these disparities, the researchers hope to promote more equitable solutions and advocate for better air quality standards in all communities.

Inspiring a Passion for Science

One of the goals of the FRESH Air project is to inspire more students to develop an interest in science. By actively participating in citizen science and collecting real-time data, students and communities feel that they are part of a scientific endeavor that has a direct impact on their lives. This hands-on approach helps them understand that science is a shared experience and that they can contribute to solving real-world problems.

Ultimately, projects like FRESH Air not only improve our understanding of climate change and its impacts but also empower students to take action and make a difference in their communities. By engaging in citizen science, they become advocates for a healthier environment and contribute to the collective effort of addressing climate change.

FAQ’s

1. What is the FRESH Air project?

The FRESH Air project is a pollution-tracking citizen science project that aims to improve air quality data while educating students and communities about the effects of climate change.

2. How does the FRESH Air project empower students?

The FRESH Air project empowers students by providing them with commercial air quality sensors and kits to build their own. This allows them to collect indoor and outdoor air pollution measurements at their schools and learn about the immediate effects of climate change.

3. What is the connection between air quality and climate change?

Air quality is negatively impacted by the changing climate, and respiratory diseases like asthma have a strong connection to air quality. The FRESH Air project aims to educate communities about climate change through the negative impacts of air quality.

4. What disparities in air quality were highlighted by the FRESH Air project?

The FRESH Air project revealed disparities between schools in low-income and high-income communities. Some schools had indoor air quality closely tracking outdoor air quality, indicating potential health risks for students and staff.

5. How does the FRESH Air project inspire a passion for science?

The FRESH Air project inspires a passion for science by actively involving students in citizen science and collecting real-time data. This hands-on approach helps students understand that they can contribute to solving real-world problems and make a difference in their communities.

Links to additional Resources:

EPA Citizen Science Citizen Science Association GLOBE Program

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Climate change awareness, Citizen science, Air pollution tracking

Climate change
In common usage, climate change describes global warming—the ongoing increase in global average temperature—and its effects on Earth's climate system. Climate change in a broader sense also includes previous long-term changes to Earth's climate. The current rise in global average temperature is more rapid than previous changes, and is primarily...
Read more: Climate change

Citizen science
Citizen science (similar to community science, crowd science, crowd-sourced science, civic science, participatory monitoring, or volunteer monitoring) is research conducted with participation from the general public, or amateur/nonprofessional researchers or participants for science, social science and many other disciplines. There are variations in the exact definition of citizen science, with...
Read more: Citizen science

Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air
The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) is a nonprofit think tank researching energy and air pollution. CREA was founded in Helsinki in 2019 with the goal of tracking the impacts of air pollution by providing data-backed research products.
Read more: Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air

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