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Website to Track Border Air Pollution

June 15, 2017

By Ana Gomez Salcido

A new public website allows unprecedented access to air monitoring data at the California-Mexico border.

The website, www.syairstudy.org, is part of the San Ysidro Community Air monitoring project.

This two-year project, funded by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, has the primary objective of understanding the air pollution health risks faced by the community.

A total of eleven monitors feed the website with air quality data. Nine of the monitors are installed in different parts of San Ysidro, another one is located at the Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center, and the last one is located at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in the Otay Mesa area.

The monitors have been operational since last January, but the website went public this last Friday. A cell phone network connects the monitors and sends the air quality data to the website every 15 minutes.

The website can be accessed from any part of the world and shows data through a map and different graphics.

The people that visit the website can decide if they want to see the air quality data of one monitor at a time, or of all of the monitors at the same time.
Users can also compare data from previous days, to find out which day and at what time was the air more polluted.

The website offers the air quality data of five different pollutants: particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone. All the website’s information is available in English and Spanish.

The website is recommended to all the people that frequently crosses the border. And to all the people that live near or in San Ysidro, or to the people that know someone that lives in the area, especially people or families that suffer from asthma.

“Before this project, there wasn’t any type of study about the air quality in the California-Mexico border. There was a monitor in Chula Vista and another one at the Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa that was operated by the County of San Diego, but there wasn’t any monitor installed in San Ysidro,” said David Flores, community development director of Casa Familiar to La Prensa San Diego. “San Ysidro and Tijuana are daily impacted by border wait times. It is important to have information about the air quality impact at the border.”

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment of the California Environmental Protection Agency, Casa Familiar, and researchers from San Diego State University and the University of Washington launched the public website.

Project managers are expected to launch a public report in 2018 about the data collected throughout this year.

They also want to replicate this program in other parts of the United States-Mexico border.

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