Residents may have noticed that white canisters are now attached to dozens of utility poles throughout the city of Hamilton.
There are about 70 in total, deployed to gather neighbourhood-specific, air quality data.
Environment Hamilton’s Lynda Lukasik says the sensors are in every ward, as part of what she terms a “hyper-localized” monitoring program.
“It is going to provide us with a lot of helpful information that really drills down to the neighbourhood level,” says Lukasik.
While the sensors are throughout the city, in urban, rural and suburban areas, Lukasik adds that most are in the vicinity of industry and major roadways with attention given to environmental justice issues.
“Lower-income residents, often marginalized, racialized communities, in some instances are being exposed to higher levels of contaminants,” says Lukasik.
Preliminary data is expected this fall, and Lukasik looks forward to using it to “influence change on the ground, where change is needed.”
Until now, air quality monitoring in Hamilton has mostly been limited to three provincial sensors and some targeted readings in the industrial core.
“This is all linked to the reality that as we start to see technology emerging that offers lower cost, but still reliable methods for gathering air quality data, says Lukasik, “this sort of a project becomes a more viable option.”
The tracking is being done by a University of Toronto masters student, whose team started climbing utility poles in January to install the monitors.