Lehigh, Northampton counties to provide update on $100K air monitoring project
- Lehigh Valley Breathes is an air quality monitoring project
- Launched in early August, the first update is expected later this month
- Officials expect 40 PurpleAir monitors to be placed across the region to collect data
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Almost two months after Lehigh Valley officials launched a $100,000 air quality monitoring project, residents are slated to receive the first update.
“Lehigh Valley Breathes will provide project updates monthly on the last week of the month, available through each county’s LVBreathes webpage and social media, as well as through the project email list,” according to a joint statement from officials in both Lehigh and Northampton counties. “ … The data collection is planned to run for a year following the completed monitor installation, so there will not be any substantive project results until after that time.”
Launched in August, Lehigh Valley Breathes is a new, Valley-wide effort to monitor air quality amid emissions from trucking and warehousing, a major part of the region’s economy. During an Aug. 2 news conference, officials said poor air quality is driving residents away, and the monitoring project will give leaders data to improve the air and combat further issues.
The first update, expected later this month, “will include current project status, including number of monitors installed, interesting observations as project data is acquired, opportunities for residents to continue to be involved in the project and pertinent news and information regarding air quality issues of both local and general interest."Statement from officials in Lehigh and Northampton counites
The first update, expected later this month, “will include current project status, including number of monitors installed, interesting observations as project data is acquired, opportunities for residents to continue to be involved in the project and pertinent news and information regarding air quality issues of both local and general interest,” according to the statement.
How bad is the Lehigh Valley’s air?
Air quality has been an ongoing issue in the Valley, especially this summer as Canadian wildfire smoke in early June turned the skies sepia-toned and choked residents.
But smoke is just the latest threat to the region’s air quality.
Transportation and mobile sources are the second-largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, making up 27% of the Valley’s total emissions, according to a March study from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.
About 35% of the Valley’s total emissions are attributed to industrial electricity and natural gas.
Last year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranked Allentown third in the nation on its list of the most challenging places to live with asthma.
This year, Allentown climbed to first in the rankings, becoming the asthma capital of the United States.
How does Lehigh Valley Breathes work?
The plans call for 40 PurpleAir monitors to be installed across the region. About the size of a softball, the white monitors can be attached to a property with a zip-tie, using lasers to monitor the air directly below them.
The monitors measure concentrations of PM 2.5, which describes the size of the particles — 2.5 micrometers or less. Those tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility, causing the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated.
If inhaled, the particles can make it deep into the lungs, creating or exacerbating breathing issues.
There are already two air monitoring sites in the Valley, one in Freemansburg and another in East Allentown. Those are used by the state Department of Environmental Protection for compliance with the federal Clean Air Act.
Once the air monitors are calibrated and running, the real-time data will be available to residents via the Shiny App.
Residents interested in hosting a monitor can find out more information on their county’s website, or by emailing LVBreathes@gmail.com.