EPA and Clean Air Council host workshop to combat air pollution in Kensington region

The Clean Air Council obtained access to between 20 and 30 air monitors, which residents can sign up to potentially have put inside or outside their homes.

Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Council, an environmental nonprofit based in Philadelphia, were on hand at the McPherson Square Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia on Wednesday night to hold an Environmental Health Workshop. The workshop informed attendees, who were residents of Kensington and the surrounding neighborhoods, about a two-year citizen air monitoring project in the Kensington, which is being funded by Aetna.

The Clean Air Council obtained access to between 20 and 30 air monitors, which residents can sign up to potentially have put inside or outside their homes.

It should be noted that the monitors cannot detect specific types of pollutants in the air.

Russell Zerbo, advocacy coordinator for the Clean Air Council, warned that it takes a lot more than simply air-monitoring to make changes in the air quality of the residents’ neighborhood. To make tangible environmental changes, it must be proven where the air pollution is coming from, which isn’t always easy.

“This is the hard part of the project,” said Zerbo. “Monitoring itself does very little. We will have to use several strategies to legitimize our data and prove that the pollution we are recording came from a specific source, and even then the strategy is dependent on the specific situation.”

Residents at the workshop said they were most concerned about the air pollution coming from scrapyards and, to a lesser extent, large construction projects.

Zerbo said the first thing residents should do if they want to report air pollution is contact the city’s Air Management Services at 215–685–7580.

Zerbo and the Clean Air Council plan to have seven more workshops at various spots around the Kensington area in the future. The times, dates and locations for these workshops have yet to be decided, however, Zerbo expects the next one to happen in either February or March.

For more information about obtaining an air monitor for your household, contact Zerbo at rzerbo@cleanair.org.