By Hope Berk, Capital Current, July 28, 2020
A new community-level project will allow residents to measure air quality in Ottawa by simply taking a walk, riding a bike or pushing a baby stroller.
The Breathe Easy campaign — a partnership between Ecology Ottawa and the Ottawa chapter of Sierra Club Canada — will provide monitors to volunteers (or air-trackers as they’re calling them) to identify areas of good and poor air quality in the city.
The monitors will measure levels of pollutants such as ozone gas, nitrogen dioxide and “particulate” matter – small particles floating in the air made up of harmful substances such as carbon and sulfur.
(...)“Air quality is possibly the most fundamental thing that we need to have to survive. From the very first breath we take as little babies to our very last breath on Earth, it’s something we cannot live for more than maybe two minutes without,” said Cole. “And yet I don’t think any of us think about it. We just get up and do our thing and think everything’s fine.”
The Ottawa campaign was inspired by the INHALE project in Toronto and Hamilton, which also monitored urban air quality by putting tools directly in citizens’ hands.
“It can be a really powerful tool because it visualizes the invisible and it starts the conversation. And depending on who’s holding the monitor, it opens the door to, I think, really powerful conversations in the community,” said Lynda Lukasik, executive director of Environment Hamilton.