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Air Quality Monitoring

Regional Air Quality Resources:

  • Puget Sound Clean Air Agency: A special-purpose, regional government agency chartered by state law in 1967. PSCAA's jurisdiction covers King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.
  • Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: County-wide resource for air quality issues such as burn bans, air quality complaints, wood burning stove requirements, and more.  

Air Quality Monitoring in Tacoma

Air quality affects all community members, however some neighborhoods experience burdens based on proximity to industry, the built environment, or different housing types. The City plans to use data gathered from air quality sensors to prioritize infrastructure funding and program efforts to address climate change – such as mitigating heat islands, assessing impacts of heat and smoke events, and identifying tree planting priorities.  

 

Air Quality Partnership Comes to Tacoma 

The City of Tacoma’s Office of Environmental Policy and Sustainability is leading an effort along with Tacoma Public Schools, University of Washington Tacoma, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, and Microsoft Research to get a better understanding of air quality issues and inequities in Tacoma. In 2020, Tacoma was identified by the Microsoft Research “Project Eclipse” team as an ideal location to test their prototype air sensors because of the potential for measurable observations that can be compared to Tacoma’s Equity Index. For more information and program updates, contact sustainability@cityoftacoma.org or call (253) 591-5172. 

 

PurpleAir: Existing Air Quality Monitors

There are currently dozens of PurpleAir sensors installed in the Tacoma area which monitor air quality in real-time. Most of these sensors are owned and operated by private residents and/or organizations, and are not maintained by the City of Tacoma. The data collected using PurpleAir sensors is intended to be educational and non-regulatory, meaning air quality levels reported cannot be used for permitting, compliance, policy, or interpretation of health effects.

Explore the map below, or visit purpleair.com for more information.

 

 

 

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What are PurpleAir sensors?

At about the size of a softball, PurpleAir sensors are connected to the internet and use laser particle count technology to measure particulate matter (PM) in the air (like dust, smoke and other suspended particles).
Information collected with the air sensors is aligned with the Environmental Protection Agency Air Quality Index, and is represented using color indicators for different pollutant levels. Graphs of averages over time and comparisons between sensors provide baselines to start asking questions about Tacoma's air quality.

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