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State AG’s Office launches new website for Pioneer Valley

BOSTON (WWLP) – The State Attorney General’s Office has launched a new air monitoring website to help people in the Pioneer Valley track pollution levels in their neighborhoods.

The website provides residents with minute by-minute data from air quality sensors that are being installed throughout the region. Sensors for this project were initially funded by the AG’s Office, and EarthWatch Institute is funding further sensors in the area.   

“For decades, policy decisions have been made that unjustly forced historically marginalized communities in cities like Springfield to breathe polluted air and to suffer impacts to their health as a result,” Attorney General Maura Healey said. “This website together with our office’s Clean Air Initiative will provide families with resources and information to protect themselves from the serious health risks posed by air pollution. I’m grateful to our partners in this effort for their commitment to making this region a healthier place to live.”  

In cities like Springfield and Holyoke, such air pollution discrepancy impacts historically marginalized communities. The website is part of AG Healey’s Clean Air Initiative. 

The AG’s Office has funded the installation of 80 air quality sensors around Springfield to collect data on pollution hotspots and to inform public health measures, and EarthWatch has funded additional sensors in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Easthampton.

According to a news release from the State Attorney General’s Office, 200,000 people nationwide die from lung and heart disease caused by air pollution. Environmental health risks are primarily caused by fine particulate matter pollution, which contributes to higher rates of COVID-19 among those who are exposed to it, but the projects sensors track the amount of particulate matter, ozone and other toxic contaminants in the air.

“My Administration and I remain committed to green initiatives that not only improve our air quality, but also bring enhanced environmental awareness to our community,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno. “I would like to thank Attorney General Maura Healey and her staff for partnering with the City of Springfield and other community stakeholders for this air quality monitoring project. I am thrilled that our residents will have access to this new and interactive website.”   

 “I am delighted to partner with many communities on this collaborative project supported by the Office of the Attorney General,” said Dr. Krystal Pollitt Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Science at Yale University School of Public Health. “The Pioneer Valley Healthy Air Network will provide the cities of Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee with real-time, high-quality air quality information. I look forward to sharing these measurements with residents and identifying actionable solutions that address local air pollution issues.” 

“The Pioneer Valley Healthy Air Network will provide community level data needed to understand and take action to address the alarmingly inequitable high rates of asthma,” said Jessica Collins, Executive Director of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts. “We are pleased to lead this collaborative effort along with the Attorney General’s Office in partnership with many communities to support innovative air quality interventions in our region.” 

“At EarthWatch we believe every person can make a meaningful contribution to science,” said Gitte Venicx, CEO at EarthWatch Institute. “We are proud to be engaging community members and partners across the Pioneer Valley in collecting air quality data and making it accessible. The project provides hyperlocal air quality data, which supports community members to make informed decisions on reducing their exposure and plan actions to improve air quality in the region.”  

 As a result of this newly launched website, residents in the region will have the opportunity to monitor pollution levels. They will also be able to protect their health when a high level of pollution is detected in the air. Monitoring of air quality is currently done in municipal buildings, individual homes upon request, and health care provider offices. An interactive map of the region is accessible on the website and displays live monitors that change colors based on measured air quality.   

Click here to learn more about individual air monitors and view air monitor locations on the map.