DETROIT, MI: Community Groups Launch Community Air Monitoring in Toxic Hot Spots with Training from Global Pollution Watchdog
Detroit, Michigan – community groups, over burdened by toxic pollution are working to bring in a team of international pollution busters, the Global Community Monitor, to learn how to measure contamination themselves. The Cleaner Air for Children Coalition will be organizing Detroit residents and students to participate in trainings across the Detroit Area. The Cleaner Air for Children Coalition is a partnership of organizations working together to highlight the need for improvements in Detroit’s air quality. This is the beginning of a three-year partnership between Global Community Monitor (GCM) and the Cleaner Air for Children Coalition through a partial grant from the University of Michigan, Environmental Support Center, and educational mini-grants for Youth Global Warming solutions awarded to Detroit teachers by the National Wildlife Federation.
On Friday, November 7th, 2008, neighbors will give GCM staff a “Toxic Tour” of pollution sites Southwest Detroit at noon.
On Saturday, November 8th volunteers from communities all over the state will participate in training on how to obtain their own air samples starting at 9:00 am at the University of Michigan’s Detroit Center at 3663 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI. The groups will be going back to their neighborhoods to obtain their samples and begin gathering evidence in support of their campaigns to reduce harmful local pollution.
Community environmental groups participate in the training to track particulate matter pollution from diesel emissions, incineration and other toxic sources.
The "Bucket Brigade" is a simple, but effective, tool that dozens of communities have used, and are using, to find out for themselves what chemicals are in the air. Armed with their own data and information about the health effects of chemicals, these communities are winning impressive reductions of pollution, safety improvements and increasing enforcement of environmental laws.
The "Bucket Brigade" is named for an easy to use air sampling device housed inside a 5 gallon plastic bucket, not unlike the ones janitors use for mopping floors. The "Bucket" was developed in Northern California in 1995 by an environmental engineering firm to simplify and reduce the costs of widely accepted methods used for testing toxic gases in the air. This plastic bucket is now becoming an essential tool to help communities clean up air pollution.
The idea originated in 1995 with Edward Masry, the attorney who worked with environmental activist Erin Brockovich. Angry about a release of toxic fumes from an oil refinery in Contra Costa County, Calif., he sought a way for ordinary people to document air pollution. The result: a user-friendly device, housed inside a bucket that can "grab" and store air samples for analysis.
"The Global Community Monitor took this idea of simplifying environmental sampling and has developed a whole tool kit of methods to test for particulate pollution, heavy metals and a wide range of toxins," said Denny Larson, who will be conducting the Detroit workshop. The Global Community Monitor has traveled throughout the United States, Africa and Asia, teaching neighborhood groups how to battle pollution. "This system is the environmental equivalent of a crime watch program. People can take a sample of a (pollution) release as it occurs, to prove their exposure."
He said this can help hold companies accountable for chemicals that escape beyond the boundaries of their operations. "There's no requirement that they install monitoring systems at the fence line or in nearby neighborhoods," Larson said. "The Bucket Brigade has been very effective in breaking through this problem."
Ahmina Maxey from East Michigan Environmental Action Council says, “This is exactly what we have been looking for. We know that the air quality around schools is not suitable for children to play and learn, but now we will have proof! We can also give neighbors and youth the tools they need to do something about the polluted air.
"We will get lab results that will determine exactly what we are being exposed to and know whether or not these are safe levels for school age children and residents to be exposed to. Once we receive the results we will compare then to the Environmental Protection agencies data and talk to local Legislators about the results.”
Co-sponsored by the Cleaner Air for Children Coalition which includes the East Michigan Environmental Action Council, University of Michigan’s Environmental Justice Initiative, Sierra Club, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Ann Arbor Ecology Center, and Michigan Environmental Council.