Tuesday, April 21, 2015

EPA Unveils Unique Park Bench In Philadelphia That Measures Air Quality

There’s a new way to check the air quality in Philadelphia. It comes in the form of an innovative park bench that the U.S Environmental Protection Agency has placed in Independence National Historical Park.
Known as the Village Green Station, the bench was developed by EPA as a unique way to get the public to participate in the measurement of air quality and weather information. It was introduced in Philadelphia on the eve of Earth Day 2015.
“The most important part of the Village Green Station is to communicate air quality information to the community and engage the public on the importance of air quality,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Data collected at this park bench will be useful for research and education, and it will posted every minute to an interactive website.”
“Climate change is proving to be a challenge for national parks in ways we've never seen before,” Independence National Historical Park Superintendent Cynthia MacLeod said. “But with a better understanding of the data, with improved knowledge, we can do more to respond to this challenge.”
The park bench includes a built-in monitoring station equipped with a solar power and wind power component that charges a battery to run the entire system.  The renewable power supports a number of instruments that provide continuous, minute-by-minute measurements of air pollution and weather that are monitored by Philadelphia Air Management Services.
“The Village Green station is an exciting new resource for helping Philadelphia's residents and visitors better understand the connection between air quality and their health,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. James Buehler.  “We are thrilled to have been selected as a recipient city and will be working closely with EPA and NPS over the next year as part of our education and outreach.”
The air pollution sensors measure two types of air pollutants: ozone and fine particle pollution, also known as particulate matter or PM -- both of which can be harmful to human health.  
Weather conditions monitored by the station include wind speed and direction, temperature, and relative humidity, which are important factors for understanding local air quality trends.
Data collected at the bench is displayed on a monitor and automatically streamed to the Village Green Project webpage for the public to see. The data is reviewed instantly to ensure its quality and accuracy prior to it being displayed online.
The station in Philadelphia is one of five stations nationwide to test the new technology. Other locations are Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Kan., Oklahoma City, and Hartford, Conn.
EPA’s partners for the Philadelphia Village Green Station include Philadelphia Air Management Services and the National Park Service.
For more information, visit EPA’s Village Green Project webpage.

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