Rochester, MN Installs Air Quality Sensors

Destination Medical Center is working with the City of Rochester, MN to install a network of air quality sensors throughout the city. The program also includes the University of Minnesota Rochester, Rochester Mayo Clinic, Olmsted County, the Sierra Club, and We Bike Rochester.

Two kinds of sensors are being used to detect particulate matter, PurpleAir and Vaisala. The PM2.5 particles being studied are of interest as they can deposit into the lower lungs, potentially causing airway irritation; asthma exacerbations; respiratory illnesses, such as COPD; cystic fibrosis; and, complications for those with cardiopulmonary diseases. The sensors have been strategically placed throughout the city based on information from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The study is particularly focussing on neighborhoods identified as containing vulnerable populations.

Data from the sensors is expected to play a role in city policy decisions, such as in planning transit line routes.

“We see a lot of overlap in cities who are further along in their implementation like New York City and Minneapolis – have started using these readings and this information in order to help policy decisions and financial decisions that the city may undertake,” Kevin Bright, energy and sustainability director for the City of Rochester, stated. “So we’re at the forefront but it’s exciting because there’s a lot of opportunities to help use this data in order to make better community health decisions.”

The sensors will also be used to measure the impact of the oxygen-providing urban forests planned within the city. Residents are able to check their local air quality conditions, here.