Archive for the ‘EPA’ tag
Looking for ways to fund citizen science research? Check out the Citizen Science Funding Resource Guide!
Jessica Clemente, an environmental science graduate thought she would be doing work outside of her community once she got her degree. But she is an asthmatic, and when she found out there was an asthma study taking place in the area of her home in South Bronx she became involved and eventually took the lead. “Living day-to-day in an area where all I saw was high traffic volumes, poor air quality and adding more waste to our community got me enraged,” she says in an EPA video interview. Her anger prompted action, and she looked at the tools to empower herself and her community—education and advocacy.
In many cases, there is a connection between socioeconomic status and air quality. Some call it environmental justice—why should a factory spew tons of filth into the same air that a poor, young family across the road breathes? Amanda Kaufman, the Environmental Health Fellow in the Air Climate and Energy Program Office at the EPA says, “We are currently working with a community in Newark, New Jersey that has faced environmental justice issues in the past and still faces many to this day. We hope to collaborate with the community action group to establish a community-led air monitoring project.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is on a new mission: to encourage citizen scientists to learn more about the air, water, and resources around them.
Earlier this year, the EPA’s Region 2 office announced its newest tool, MyEnvironment. This project provides immediate access to a cross-section of environmental data for any geographical location in the U.S. Users of the official site can choose the location and environmental issue to examine.
Some examples of locations and issues that users can examine are
- Air, water, land
- Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) — information on toxic chemical releases and other waste management activities in the U.S.
- Population health status
- Energy-generating facilities
The tool emphasizes sharing data (via social media, e-mail, or other venues) within your community. Their MyCommunityfeature allows users to give a “shout out” to community-based efforts by uploading information about events. This feature also connects people by enabling users to look up events happening around them in case they want to join in.
“Citizen science [has become] a regional priority with the focus on protecting children’s health, and advancing environmental justice,” says Patricia Sheridan, a scientist at the EPA. “By supporting citizen scientists, the EPA is expanding its own scientific base and building collaborations with communities that are working to reduce pollution.”
MyEnvironment has a strong emphasis on making environmental data accessible; the site is printable and exportable in various formats—information ripe for sharing publicly. The EPA Region 2 website identifies that one of the biggest issues citizen scientists face is getting their data taken seriously by regulators and industry. This is an interesting opportunity to examine varying perspectives about the way that citizen science data is used once submitted. Patricia expounds on the complementary relationship between citizen science and formal research:
“Individuals and community groups have long collected data to better understand their local environmental and address issues of concern to them. However, citizen science collected data does not replace the need for government scientists. […] With increasingly limited government resources, citizen science can certain complement the work of EPA and state regulatory agencies.”
The EPA Region 2 spearheaded their initiative in citizen science by holding various workshops starting in 2012. These citizen science workshops brought together over 250 federal, state, local governments, academic, citizen and community based groups to advance the use of citizen science monitoring in community environmental and public health protection. Session topics included how to start a citizen program; funding sources; community and government /academic partnerships; success stories for both air and water; and data interpretation and use; the future of monitoring technologies and a demonstration of current and emerging tools.
The EPA Region 2’s citizen science program is unique in that it’s one of the few federally supported citizen science initiatives in existence today. Will more Federal government agencies look to serious crowdsourcing strategies for future research? Does this indicate that citizen science is more than just a trend for government agencies? What intended or unintended role might these efforts play in policy making? These are questions to consider as the field of citizen science grows and as larger entities become more attuned to what public participation in science can contribute.
For more, check out out database of 500+ projects using our Project Finder!
For those of you in the New York and New Jersey areas, the EPA will be hosting a FREE workshop on Citizen Science. The New York workshop is on the June 19th in New York City, and the New Jersey workshop is June 20th in Edison. Both are all day long, however, there is a great selection of individual topics available including how to start a project and how to get funding.
Participants must register by June 17th and space is limited so sign up quick!
The EPA has recently expressed interest in getting involved in Citizen Science, and has even recently announced up to 10 new citizen science project grants totaling $125,000 in New York City alone. This is surely to be informative and will be absolutely worth the FREE admission!
Have an idea for a wearable or smartphone sensor to help monitor and report air quality information? This just in….new contest presented by Innocentive, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Health and Human Service:
My Air, My Health: An HHS/EPA Challenge
This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only a written proposal to be submitted.
The Challenge: How do we connect personal devices for testing and reporting of both air quality and linked physiological data? Such a system would enable not only high-resolution mapping of pollutant concentrations, but also support research and reporting of individual physiological responses related to the pollutant.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Health and Human Service envision a future in which powerful, affordable, and portable sensors provide a rich awareness of environmental quality, moment-to-moment physiological changes, and long-term health outcomes. Health care will be connected to the whole environment, improving diagnosis, treatment, and prevention at all levels.
Solve this InnoCentive Challenge and win. Award: $160,000 USD
Plans to develop personal devices are required – these must sensitively and frequently measure air quality, along with one or more physiological markers linked to the air quality metric that is measured. The system should be designed with input from a community or target population that would benefit from the solution. A design for a personal integrated system is required, together with a development plan and a proposal for a proof of concept study.
Designs and development plans are required for integrated sensor systems that will detect:
Air pollutants – Particulates or individual chemical species
Physiological markers – Health metrics with a citation-supported link to the proposed air pollutants to be measured
The system should also enable transmission of these data, together with time and location stamps, to a central resource. Existing communication architecture and transmission devices (e.g. cellular handsets and networks) should be used to transmit data.
This Challenge is structured in 2 Phases – 4 awards of $15,000 are available to Phase 1 finalists, and a single award of $100,000 is available for the winner of Phase 2:
Phase 1 – Project Plan (no more than 15 pages, not including appendices that may consist of diagrams/schematics, bibliography, and other supplementary materials)
Propose a plausible link between health outcomes and airborne pollutants (chemical species and/or particulates), and provide evidence to support a plausible and physiologically meaningful relationship between airborne pollutants and physiological metrics in a defined population.
Propose a prototype design and development plan for an integrated multi-sensor and data management system that may be easily worn or carried by individuals within the defined target community/population.
Conceptualize data generation, management (may include processing & on-board storage), and transmission functionality of the device.
Propose a small-scale proof-of-concept study to validate the proposed prototype.
Study design process must include input from the target community/population.
Phase 2 – Proof-of-Concept Pilot Project
Finalists attend an event for feedback, questions, and business/entrepreneurial resources prepared by Challenge sponsors (HHS, ONC, NIEHS, EPA).
Finalists develop the proposed prototype and execute experimental validation of the system to bring together data from personal air quality and physiological monitors, showing how these types of data and sensors can be integrated for practical use by health and environmental agencies, and by individual citizens. Proof-of-concept data must illustrate the accuracy and precision of the raw data and of any processed data produced by the system.
This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only a written proposal to be submitted. The Challenge award will be contingent upon theoretical evaluation of the proposal by the Seeker. To receive an award, the Solvers will not have to transfer their exclusive IP rights to the Seeker. Instead, they will grant to the Seeker non-exclusive license to practice their solutions.