Residents Learn About Mystic River Watershed Study of Air Quality in Region: Charlestown Is Part of Air Quality Project

Special to the Patriot-Bridge

Residents met with air quality and climate health professionals Feb. 8 in Charlestown to learn about the Mystic River Watershed Association’s three-year study (CLEANAIR) of air quality that will focus on the communities of East Boston, Everett, Malden, and Charlestown.

The meeting coincided with MRWA and its partner Tufts University’s installation of air quality monitoring equipment on the roof of the Bunker Hill Museum last Friday, Feb. 9. The monitor will measure the pollution in Charlestown and MWRA team members will record weekly results that will be part of the three-year study (CLEANAIR).

“We’re grateful to the National Park Service for their willingness to host us at the Bunker Hill Museum,” said MWRA Executive Director Patrick Herron. “We should be able to begin sharing data from the air quality monitoring in a few months.”

Laura McNulty, epidemiologist at Cambridge Health Alliance, spoke about air quality in the area, noting in a power-point presentation about transportation-related air pollution that “fossil-fuel combustion by various modes creates a complex mixture of combustion by-products that pollute urban air.”

McNulty, a graduate of Tufts University,  said she was pleased to meet with Charlestown residents and hear their concerns about air quality in the neighborhood.

“With the CLEANAIR project, we’re just so appreciative of the chance to hear residents’ experiences,” said McNulty. “It will really help our team of researchers to identify where to monitor the air for pollution and hopefully lead to action to improve air quality and health in the community.”

Sen. Lydia Edwards is pleased that an in-depth study is being done to assess the air quality in Charlestown and other communities.

“I’m excited to see a comprehensive environmental justice conversation,” said Edwards. “It is vital that we build healthy clean, and green communities, guided by community and grassroots participation.

Herron explained the goal of the meeting in Charlestown, stating, “We’re holding learning sessions to meet with residents to learn about the concerns they have and have them share their knowledge with us so we can understand the hot spots and where air quality might be poor in the communities. “The end result is if we can learn where the problems are and better understand them with some really sophisticated monitoring – that gives us a chance to talk with municipal planners and businesses, and try to find solutions.”

Previous meetings have been held in Everett.

Everett Councilor-at-Large Katy Rogers, who attended a Jan. 17 informational workshop in Everett about the MRWA air quality study, said, “The meeting was well attended and informative. I learned there is a device on top of Everett City Hall measuring the pollution in our community. This is an issue we should be concerned about, and I appreciate there are tangible measures being taken to address it.”

Nicole Fina, who is the civic engagement and advisory manager for Everett Community Growers (ECG), attended meetings in Everett and Charlestown. ECG is a part of the CLEANAIR project team.

Fina said that 36 residents attended the Feb. 6 meeting in Everett. She added that two physicians from CHA participated in the meeting.

“We talked about the monitor located on top of City Hall, and we had residents pick out an area in Everett where air quality monitoring could be done and where there are concerns,” said Fina.

Fina said the long-term monitoring of air quality in Everett “will take two to three years for the results to come in.”

Much of the air quality study is focusing on transport-related air pollution, according to Fina.

“I found the meeting in Everett to be very productive,” said Fina. “We had a very good turnout and a wide demographic. People gave their feedback about how different causes of air pollution could affect them in their daily lives, like walking to school or work or taking the bus. I think people were really able to contextualize everything and put the pieces together why we’re doing air quality monitoring in Everett.”

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