Kristina Wagstrom, Eversource Energy Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering Education at the University of Connecticut, received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation for a project that will evaluate air pollution in various neighborhoods in Hartford.
The five year, $500,000 project entitled “Engaging Communities to Bridge the Local to Regional Gap in Air Pollution Exposure Assessment” began in June 2018. Wagstrom and students in one of her service learning elective courses will be working with various neighborhoods in Hartford to tackle issues of near road air pollution. They will develop recommendations for individuals, communities, and policy changes to mitigate the impact of air pollution.
“The motivation behind this project is to provide ways to better understand real world air pollution exposures and take into account near road exposures,” She said.
One part of the project will involve monitoring air pollution in Hartford using low cost equipment. Wagstrom said that for every year of the project researchers will partner with different neighborhood associations in Hartford to do modelling and monitoring of air pollution in that neighborhood. Citizen will able to set up some monitors themselves as well.
Wagstrom said the project will focus on using a hybrid modeling approach that will yield better estimates of air pollutant concentrations than other models.
“A lot of the actual effort on the project is developing this complex new model,” Wagstrom said “The goal is to provide a tool that can be used anywhere to provide better air pollution estimates that can then be used to make recommendations to people about how they might want to change their own activity and make recommendations to communities and city planners about better ways of planning urban areas.”
She said the new modeling system will allow them to better estimate, for example, the difference between walking or biking down one road versus another during different times of day.
“So really giving us much better estimates to what your air pollution exposure would look like given different activity patterns. Different ways of going about your life day to day,” Wagstrom said.
Article by Sarah Al-Arshani
Photography by Peter Morenus