Air Info Now
Tucson, Arizona is a unique western urban area with a strong public appreciation for and commitment to the surrounding natural environment. Tucsonans have shown increasing concern over air pollution, both in terms of individual health and environmental impacts that may be occurring in the mountains and high desert lands that are locally, nationally, and internationally valued for their pristine condition. Saguaro National Park, which lies adjacent to both the eastern and western boundaries of the metropolitan area, is a federally designated Class I Wilderness Area threatened by Tucson's air pollution.
Public communication of air quality is particularly important in our region since many residents move here specifically to alleviate health problems. The percentage of residents that are sensitive to air pollutants, even at levels below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), is higher than the national average. There are also economically disadvantaged areas within the city that have higher documented rates of pediatric asthma. Timely dissemination of air pollution data is particularly important to these individuals, especially children, in order to avoid exposures that may exacerbate acute disease responses.
- Objectives: Objectives: Using air quality as the pilot medium, the overall objective will be to produce media and public communication programs about air quality, the Tucson environment, health concerns, and local solutions to improve air quality. This integrated, community-based program will 1) collect and disseminate accurate, understandable, and timely air pollution information; 2) expand associated outreach and education programs to improve understanding of the relationships between air quality, climate and health effects; and 3) allow the community to address local air pollution problems and solutions based on credible scientific information.
- Approach: Approach: Contained within a comprehensive Information Management System, mapping protocols will be developed for web-based and graphic reporting of air quality and associated urban air parameters. Previously unavailable and highly technical air quality information will be presented in understandable, usable, near real-time formats. A panoramic digital camera system overlooking the Tucson valley will allow for unattended video monitoring on the
EMPACT AirInfoNow home page. Additional special purpose studies in underserved areas and expanded agency and stakeholder outreach programs will be marketed to assist the public in day-to-day decision-making that we hope will improve individual health and overall air quality.
- Expected Results: The Tucson community will use the Information Management System to access current air quality and visibility conditions and graphically displayed data. Expanded public outreach and training of media and teaching professionals will build on the capacity of Tucsonans to address local environmental issues. Transferable sustainable technology will be available as a template for other areas to provide their community with a similar partnership for environmental decision-making.