BOSTON — Braintree and Holbrook were recently named among 37 other municipalities receiving air sensors as part of an effort to increase awareness of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution levels. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) will utilize $81,468 in grant funding to purchase the roughly 300 small air sensors and provide them to municipalities to measure PM2.5 levels in their communities for a period of one year.

“Particulate matter can be a significant airborne pollutant that affects the public health in communities throughout the state,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “By providing air sensors to municipalities to measure their air quality, our Air Sensor Grant Program highlights the Commonwealth’s dedication to working directly with local communities, to effectively assess and improve air quality across the state.”

PM2.5 is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air and is so small that it can be inhaled deep into the lungs and may even enter a person’s bloodstream. Breathing PM2.5 in the air can lead to adverse health effects, including aggravated asthma and other respiratory and cardio-pulmonary illnesses. By receiving sensors through MassDEP’s grant program, municipalities will be able to work with residents, schools, and community groups to measure PM2.5 levels and increase awareness of local air quality conditions and identify ways to better protect public health. As part of its commitment to advancing equity, diversity, and environmental justice (EJ), MassDEP prioritized projects with sensor placements in or near communities with EJ populations, as well as projects partnering with residents, schools and local organizations that work on public health and EJ issues. Out of all the projects receiving sensors, 56 percent are in communities with EJ populations that often experience disproportionate effects of air pollution.

Through this program, Braintree will receive seven sensors while Holbrook will receive 10.

These “PurpleAir” sensors are used by a variety of governments, private organizations, and citizens to measure outdoor PM2.5 levels. Once installed, the sensors measure PM2.5 levels in “real time” and sensor data is transmitted to the PurpleAir Map, where it can be viewed through any smart device. The sensor data also can be viewed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow Fire and Smoke Map together with data from state-operated regulatory PM2.5 monitors.

For more information on MassDEP’s Air Sensor Grant Program, please visit the agency’s Air Sensor Grant webpage. To check out MassDEP’s real-time air quality map MassAir Online, click here.

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