91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Federal grants set to expand air quality monitoring in and around Detroit

Detroit skyline

Air quality monitoring has gotten a boost in Detroit through EPA grants funded by the federal Inflation Reduction Act and the American Rescue Plan.

The EPA program targets underserved communities where environmental and health disparities have been worsened by COVID and increased air pollution.

Both outdoor and indoor air quality monitors will be expanded in number and location through Detroit and parts of Wayne County.

Kathleen Solanger, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, said despite improvements over the past 20 years, poor air quality remains persistent in Detroit and Wayne County.

"Exposure to high level air pollution may increase the risk for chronic diseases later in life," said Solanger. "And we know that poor air quality and exposure to air pollution is a really significant risk factor for developing asthma and is a big trigger for those who already have asthma."

She said polluted air can also negatively affect neurological development, and contribute to heart attacks, strokes, and preterm births.

Solanger said about 60% of indoor air pollution originates from outdoor sources. That means outdoor air pollution exacerbates indoor air pollution like cigarette smoke and gas stoves.

Exposure to poor air quality is disproportionately experienced by Black and Hispanic populations, Solanger said.

Elizabeth Hauptman, the Michigan field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force, said the increased monitoring will fill in gaps. "These monitors are going in areas that haven't been monitored before," Hauptman said. "So you're going to be getting information throughout the entire city as opposed to just certain targeted areas."

Hauptman said access to improved air quality data will help communities advocate for themselves with government agencies and political representatives. She said that could result in action against the source of the pollution, help for health issues arising from it, and improved regulations.

Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
Related Content