Connecticut’s Department of Public Health (DPH) announced on Wednesday that it has received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to DPH, the money will be used to monitor air quality in distressed communities. 

The agency is planning to use the money to set up a series of low-cost air sensors to monitor pollution, as well as a digital dashboard that will provide information on the effects of poor air quality.

The educational element will also move into local schools playing host to those air quality monitors. The grant also provides for community engagement and education.

“Climate change and its effect on public health is one of the overarching initiatives here at DPH,” said DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD in a statement. “DPH will implement actions that enhance health equity, increase resiliency, and ensure Connecticut communities are prepared for the health impacts of climate change which include improving air quality.” 

The goal is to cut down on bad health outcomes associated with poor air quality. 

“We know poor air quality exacerbates asthma and other respiratory illness, especially among sensitive groups,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “The studies this funding will support will provide additional data and insights which will inform the development of future DEEP policies to improve air quality in our environmental justice areas and supplement our other air quality monitoring efforts.”

According to the EPA, poor air quality can be especially harmful to higher-risk groups including children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with pre-existing heart and lung conditions. Low-income communities can also carry a higher risk due to proximity to industry, lack of access to proper nutrition, and lower health standards as a result of socio-economic conditions.

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An Emmy and AP award-winning journalist, Tricia has spent more than a decade working in digital and broadcast media. She has covered everything from government corruption to science and space to entertainment...

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  1. East Haven is an Environmental Justice town. Residents have written to the EPA, FAA, and DEEP about the negative effects of air pollution and airport expansion for over 2 years. East Haven has the highest incidence of asthma hospitalizations in the State of CT. We need help, not big money business.

  2. 10,000 Hawks reached out to Clarity,io for help in low cost air monitoring around Tweed New Haven Airport that has been expanding flights over our distressed neighborhoods in New Haven and East Haven. We were able to come up with a plan but were not able to apply for funding because we are not a 501 c 3 organization. Nevertheless, we did obtain a commmittment from a UCONN air quality researcher to assist with reading the data. Tweed New Haven Authority is currently under an EA process for their proposed expansion and have just submitted their EA to the FAA for review. Their air quality NEPA measurements involve using the main monitor at Criscuolo Park in New Haven and computer modeling to evaluate the effect of their actions on air quality that residents have to breathe. Residents taste jet fuel regularly, report black soot covering everything and developing new asthma diagnoses. The air monitor in question is 2-3 miles upwind of the airport runway and in my opinion, will not measure the real time exposures that the public experiences. It is insufficient for the FAA to use this type of analysis for evaluating air quality changes due to increased airport traffic. Please help us study this problem.

  3. While I applaud any action by the DPH, DEEP and EPA to “cut down on bad health outcomes associated with poor air quality”, further STUDY of toxic emissions is not what’s required. As DEEP Commissioner Dykes notes in this article, we already know what poor air quality does to respiratory health. As DPH Commissioner Juthani is aware, climate change is only making things worse, especially for communities already burdened by more than their fair share of environmental hazards. While our government continues to “study” impacts which are already well-documented and understood, people are losing years off their lives, children are losing out on healthy development and education, and our economy suffers through high health costs and lost productivity.

    We don’t need a “digital dashboard” to tell us that the air we breathe is poisonous. We need air quality regulations with teeth, public policy which actually reduces the sources of toxic emissions, public agencies which protect the population from harm rather than studying the harm as it is being done, and elected officials who prioritize the real health of our children over the myth of infinite economic growth.

    Oh, and we need a halt to the expansion of airports within an EPA NAAQS severe non-attainment zone like New Haven County. If the DPH really wants to study the health impacts of toxic air quality, it should take a look at how deadly Tweed-HVN Airport is to the communities within 5 miles of its fenceline. If the State is serious about environmental justice and climate resilience, it should not be supporting Tweed’s expansion and the destruction of wetlands in a tidal flood plain for the sake of an industry which contributes disproportionately to GHG emissions while benefiting only the wealthiest sectors of society.

  4. We need your help. There is a school within 1/4 of a mile from Tweed New Haven Airport. Homes within a few feet! Yes you read that right! The types of planes that are flying in and out have changed. The traffic has increased. This is only the beginning. People are already voicing their concerns over new health issues. Computer monitoring is not enough. This is not the way to go nor does is support any efforts in terms of climate change. Come and experience it for yourself. Talk to the people to who live in the area. Talk to the doctors and veterinarians.

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