Faculty Advisor

Dr. Mark Potosnak; Dr. Eric Landahl


While we have a comprehensive understanding of air pollutants, and their spatiotemporal characteristics across global, and even regional, scales, we are quite limited in our capacity to monitor neighborhood-scale emissions. The mobile monitoring of air pollution is a growing field, prospectively filling in these gaps while personalizing air quality-based tools and risk assessment. In the present study, we developed wearable sensors for particulate matter (PM); and through a citizen science approach, students of partnering Chicago schools monitored PM concentrations throughout their commutes over a five-day period. While their recorded findings would be used to explore the relationship between PM concentrations and urban vegetation, we were also interested in the degree to which mobile monitoring influenced their environmental attitudes. PM readings were processed as GIS point features across 8 survey sites, while urban vegetation was determined through a true normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) using Landsat 8 OLI/TIRS satellite imagery. As expected, our linear regression indicated a negative correlation between PM and vegetation. Survey responses were scored on the basis of their environmental affinity. Although there was no significant difference between cumulative pre- and post-survey responses, changes within certain attitude-based subcategories may possibly suggest that students were inclined to practice more sustainable behaviors, but perhaps, lacked the resources to do so. Further research on the social and environmental implications of mobile monitoring may improve our capacity to collect, model, and interpret air quality in the city; and do so in a way that promotes a political discourse around these issues.