The Frederick County Division of Energy & Environment (DEE) has introduced a network of air quality monitors to be stationed around the County. The new system will provide real-time assessments of fine particulate matter concentrations in our air; for example, microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are small enough to be inhaled and go deep into the lungs and bloodstream, causing serious health problems. The DEE has initiated this project to track local air pollution, especially in high-risk regions and where people may not be able to respond to air quality problems.
Maryland Secretary of the Environment Serena McIlwain and her staff recently visited one of Frederick County’s new air quality monitoring sites. “It was great to host Secretary McIlwain and highlight how Frederick County is working to tackle environmental justice issues. I am proud of the work the DEE is doing to collect and share data to address health and environmental disparities in our community,” said County Executive Jessica Fitzwater.
Air quality concerns can vary significantly within a region. To protect those most exposed to poor air quality, the county intends to place at least five of the twelve new air monitors in areas with low-income or disadvantaged populations. These residents are more likely to be affected by air quality issues and may have fewer resources to address them.
According to Frederick County Sustainability Program Administrator Tiara Lester, “Last summer, smoke from Canadian wildfires blanketed our region and briefly drew many people’s attention to the issue of air quality. But many people experience similar air quality issues most or all the time.” Neighborhoods bordering industrial operations can be continually exposed to particulates in the air. And those who live or work near busy roads may breathe in many different pollutants regularly.
A key goal of this project is to better understand the air quality of specific areas in Frederick County and make that information accessible to the public. The manufacturer of the air sensors provides an interactive online map that allows the public to easily access air quality data, allowing users to zoom out and view the big picture of air quality in our region or zoom in for readings from a single air quality monitor.
Two monitoring stations have been installed in Frederick County, one at the County Division of Housing’s facility on Sagner Avenue and one at the City of Brunswick’s Milton E. Frech, Jr. Operations Center.
“We are honored to lead the way in Frederick County by being the first municipality to join the air quality monitoring network,” said Brunswick Assistant City Administrator Jeremy Mose. “This program will help us track and reduce the sources of air pollution that threaten our health and environment.”
The project provides the opportunity for collaboration among Frederick County government agencies and external community-based organizations. Project partners include the City of Brunswick, the City of Frederick, the Frederick County Sustainability Commission, Mobilize Frederick, the Frederick County Health Department, and the Frederick County Family Services Division. The Frederick County Division of Energy and Environment is committed to creating a healthier, sustainable, and more equitable community for all. For more information on their other projects and programs, please visit their website at www.FrederickCountyMD.gov/DEE or follow @SustainableFCMD on Facebook and Instagram