Instructor: M. Elias Dueker
Scientists have recently identified connections between water and air quality at urban waterfronts. Polluted water bodies contribute microbial and chemical pollutants to the air above them, which can be distributed to densely populated waterfront communities by wind. While the concept of connections between contaminated water, air, and land makes intuitive sense, scientists are just beginning to quantify and characterize this connection, which is key to creating effective regulations to mitigate public exposure to airborne water-based pollutants. To better understand how this water-air connection may affect the public health of adjacent urban communities, more data is needed at a higher resolution in areas vulnerable to degraded water quality. The use of citizen science approaches may help to address this data gap. More and more, citizens in affected communities are engaging with scientific environmental monitoring as a means to protect their community’s health and to push for the clean-up of polluted water and air. These “citizen scientists”, in collaboration with members of the scientific community, produce data that are often at much higher resolution than data routinely gathered by scientists and/or government monitoring agencies. This Senior Capstone Project will focus on the development of an effective citizen science approach to monitoring the newly-identified water-air quality connection at the NYC waterfront. The hypothetical client will be an NYC environmental NGO interested in expanding its programming to waterfront communities invested in monitoring their environment. Specifically, students will:
• Study the scientific and regulatory aspects of water and air quality monitoring in urban environments, and develop
public education tools to clearly communicate this knowledge.
• Catalogue global examples of past and present citizen science monitoring of water and/or air quality, and develop a best
practices approach to building a new citizen science program using lessons learned from these efforts.
• Conduct a comprehensive survey of ongoing air and water quality monitoring in NYC (city, state, citizen-based,
academic) to identify established resources and knowledge gaps.
• Identify NYC sites where a water-air quality connection might affect the health of adjacent communities.
• Establish effective field methods for use by citizen scientists at these sites, which will require field-testing of equipment
and troubleshooting of air and water sampling methods.