• Urban Educator logo

L.A. Unveils Nation’s Largest School-based Air Quality Monitoring Network

  • Los Angeles Unified School District has set up a district-wide air monitoring system that is tracking pollutants in real time, with data available to school leaders and the public alike.

    Sensors installed at 200 school locations measure fine particulate matter including smog, exhaust, industrial emissions, smoke, and dust every six minutes. There is a sensor within a 1.6-mile radius of every school, according to the district.

    Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a news release the new system--the Know Your Air Network--provides “an important tool to monitor air quality and proactively ensure student safety.”

    The nation’s second largest school district intends to use the data to rapidly respond to air-quality concerns, including smoke from wildfires, and also to identify schools with persistent air quality issues requiring some type of remediation.

    “We are empowered, through this technology, to make real-time rapid decisions that are scientifically grounded,” said Carvalho at a news conference. District officials intend to use the data in deciding whether students should don masks or move indoors or whether to close a school during a poor air-quality event.

    Board president Kelly Gonez noted many Los Angeles communities have been “environmentally impacted after suffering decades of underinvestment” and that the district “must work to address the environmental injustices our students face, whether it’s air quality, lack of green space, or extreme heat.” She said the air-monitoring network is part of a larger strategy “to make our schools greener and more resilient for our students and families.”

    And board member Scott Schmerelson noted the initiative is an example of a means of integrating climate literacy into the curriculum.

    Carvalho and other district leaders expressed concern over air pollution and the increasing episodes of wildfires in and around Los Angeles.

    The school system partnered with Clarity Movement Co., which provided sensors, software, and networking infrastructure, and also worked with the Coalition for Clean Air, Wells Fargo, and the Zolla Family Foundation in setting up the program.

    The data can be viewed on the district’s website or through the AirVisual mobile app.