EDF Our pioneering work with Google in Oakland and Houston shows that levels of air pollution vary much more widely than was previously known.
We now know that levels of air pollution can vary by up to eight times within one city block – and that living in areas with the most elevated levels increases heart attack risk in the elderly by 40 percent, similar to a history of smoking.
Also, new satellite data shows that 24 million more Americans – twice as many than previously thought – live in areas with unhealthy air, making it more important than ever to address the problem.
So EDF and partners like Google Earth Outreach are piloting a range of studies from Oakland to London featuring new, lower-cost sensors, to help us map air pollution at the hyperlocal level. This new generation of sensors can be mounted on cars, trucks and even bicycles – or in denser stationary networks than previous monitors.
For a pilot project in Oakland, California, our mobile measurement team outfitted Google Street View cars with air quality sensors to gather air pollution data at street level, where people are actually breathing the air.
This new methodology allowed us to collect much more data at a level of detail that was nearly impossible before – and showed just how much pollution varied over very short distances.
In Oakland, people are already using the data from our study to push for emission reductions under a new air quality law that seeks to reduce pollution in California’s most affected neighborhoods.