Data Gathering Data Analysis Toward Better Air Quality Outcomes in SW Detroit – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Data Gathering Data Analysis Toward Better Air Quality Outcomes in SW Detroit

Damien Sutton


Pronouns: He/Him

Research Mentor(s): Maggie Striz, Director of Healthy Air
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision,
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 1 (10am-10:50am)
Breakout Room: Room 19
Presenter: 2

Event Link


In support of the ongoing initiatives by community advocates to cut diesel emissions in Southwest Detroit, this research aims to gauge the effects on air quality that commercial vehicles have in residential areas when using their streets as routes. SW Detroit has some of the highest levels of PM and toxic pollutants measured in Detroit, with Detroit having the worst air quality conditions in Michigan. This study accesses the ambient air quality in residential areas that have a high frequency of commercial trucks traveling their streets. We want to know how each passing truck contributes to the air pollution on the street it is using. Part of this study involves detecting the baseline concentration of these emissions on these streets where there is little or no commercial truck activity as a control. Using PurpleAir monitors co-located with cameras at resident homes, we are able to pair time stamped air quality data with photos of passing trucks. This allows us to make direct associations of PM with each truck passing. Using averaging periods before and after each truck passing, we are able to make a comparison between the baseline air quality and the extent to which the emissions of those trucks last in the immediate vicinity. By quantifying these effects we have been able to determine the temporal, residual effect on air quality as a result of heavy-duty truck traffic on residential streets. According to the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the number of deaths associated with air pollution is greater than 650 Detroiters every year. A large number of air pollution point sources exist in SW Detroit, which are already monitored for their contribution to the local air quality, but to our knowledge there are no studies assessing the hyperlocal effects of heavy-duty truck emissions on air quality in residential areas. The Southwest Detroit community is predominantly made up of minority groups. These groups are disproportionately affected by environmental justice issues. This research helps to rectify a public health concern of poor air quality in an underprivileged minority community. Moreover, the SW Detroit community belongs to populations of the city who are considered to be more vulnerable to the negative impacts of air pollutants (Caphe Project pg 11) than other groups. These groups include adolescents and elderly. The intention of this work is to contribute key information to the policy making efforts of the City of Detroit in planning new truck routes.

Authors: Manar Zoulfikar, Damien Sutton, Maggie Striz, Raquel Garcia, Sarah Clark
Research Method: Community Based Research

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