Environmental Sensing

A healthy environment means a healthy life

Living in a healthy environment seems to be a human right. After all the air we breathe, the water we drink and soil we grow our food in are the foundations of our life as a whole. We rely on them being clean to stay healthy and alive.

Clean Air, Soil, Water – a right or an illusion?

A right to a clean and safe environment seems more and more challenged today. We saw big environmental crises all around the US. People drank – often for years and without knowing – contaminated water in Flint (MI) or Hoosick Falls (NY). In the capital district soil contaminated with dangerous levels of lead remains a large problem remains difficult to get under control. The air in most of the cities of the world contains smog from factories, refineries, and cars. In these cities, asthma becomes a more and more common disease, linked to the particulates in the air. Research shows that people living close to roads with high traffic, for example, rush hour traffic, often live significantly fewer years than those who live away from such roads. Old houses, in particular, manufactured/mobile homes, are built with highly toxic materials such as asbestos and formaldehyde. The air in those homes is often dangerously contaminated with the tiny particulates of those substances evaporating into the air. Indoor air pollution is increasingly recognized as a large public health concern – especially during the hot summer months when the Air Conditioning unit is running, and we are less likely to open windows to bring in outside fresh air.

You are most likely affected too!

These problems are challenging, as most of the pollution (through smog, toxins, waste, pesticides) is invisible: You can’t smell, taste or see it! Often, you only realize that toxins are around when it is too late: years later when the slow effects on health take their toll in illness and disease. However, some tools can tell you about the quality of your environment. Take a look here:

  • The Nose

How Communities – How YOU – can bring about Change!

But we are often more powerful when we work together! In all these cases we saw not only the tragedy of environmental pollutions and its toll in affected communities – but also people coming together and working to find solutions, challenging industries polluting their neighborhoods – and challenging the laws that protect these industries. The response to the drinking water crises in Hoosick Falls, NY and Flint, MI was lead by scientists, community members, activists and advocates working together to not only get clean water but also to change the laws in ways that prevent such disasters from happening in the future. In Pennsylvania, a large community movement started to measure the pollution of fracking. In New York, a network of community organizations used sensors to keep track of the quality of their water. All around the US, people go out and measure the quality of the air, helping state agencies to more effectively protect people. In all these cases, people acted up and brought about change for the better, by measuring air, water, and soil quality. As they produced their data, they can give the state facts and proof on what is happening in their communities and force politicians to act.