The Village of Telkwa will be installing a new air pollution monitoring device.
The Bulkley Valley Lakes District Airshed Management Society has connected with the engineering school at Utah University where they have designed and built a low cost PM2.5 monitor. They’ve named it the purple air monitor. It costs just over $300, including delivery.
The society offered to kick in $200 and asked the Village to foot the rest of the bill for one. The society also offered to install it and set up a website where the public can view the results in real time. Councillors agreed to it at their last regular council meeting on July 10. Council is also thinking about ordering more and placing them around Telkwa in different neighbourhoods if the response for the first one does well.
Society president Dave Stephens said the monitor is very small, about 10 cm high and wide. It weighs about a kilogram. It only needs one watt, the cord is 10 metres long and has an inline five volt converter. Stephens told council it is simple to install and maintain. It just needs to be bolted to a wall, plugged in and have access to wifi. Anyone can then log on to a website and see the air quality and how much pollution is in the air.
“At the moment there aren’t air pollution measurements being made everywhere people live. The equipment the Ministry [of Enviornment] uses is very good but very expensive,” said Stephens. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. We want to lower the cost of measurement so it becomes feasible.”
He added the numbers can help drive public policy as well.
The society has already installed one in the Village of Hazelton. A small grant paid for it. The monitor is up and working in Old Town. The public can view the results in real time at hazelton.cleanairplan.ca.
Stephens is also hoping to install ones in Gitanyow and Moricetown.
The Ministry of Environment has also installed a purple air monitor in Smithers at St. Joseph’s School to compare it to their high-cost equipment. Ministry readings are available at env.gov.bc.ca/epd/bcairquality/readings/map/station.html#E206589.