Hyperlocal, community-owned air monitoring

The WOAQ monitoring network is a community-owned network of air quality sensors that help us advocate for stronger environmental policies and enforcement by telling a detailed story of our neighborhood’s exposure to air pollution.

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Hyperlocal measurement tells a more complete story

For years, there was only a single sensor in West Oakland, placed high above the neighborhood where it could not pick up detailed changes in the air that residents were breathing at ground level. Since 2008, WOEIP has partnered with researchers and technology companies to develop groundbreaking, hyperlocal maps that tell a more complete story about the sources of air pollution in our neighborhood, and who is most impacted from block to block.

Using this data, WOEIP helps visualize for policy makers what the community already knows: air pollution and its risks are unevenly distributed, and historically marginalized communities bear the burden. 

Advanced technology in the community’s hands

We’ve installed air quality sensors throughout West Oakland, focusing on West Oakland’s air quality impact zones. These are neighborhoods that experience higher levels of air pollution exposure and health risks, according to the West Oakland Community Action Plan.

What do the sensors measure?

The WOAQ monitoring network uses three different types of air sensors that allow us to capture a variety of dangerous pollutants. These include black carbon (BC), particulate matter (PM2.5), and more. These pollutants cause serious health issues, including asthma and other respiratory illnesses, heart disease, and increased cancer and mortality risks.

Black carbon, metals and dust

Interior of an air sensor showing several small boxes mounted inside a larger container and connected by black and orange wires.

This dual-sensor combination measures black carbon (BC), which primarily comes from diesel exhaust, as well as toxic metals and dust. We currently have 7 combo sensors installed in the WOAQ monitoring network, and plan to install several more.

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5)

For participants with location constraints, we use Purple Air sensors to measure fine particulate matter (PM2.5). PM2.5 comes from dust, smoke, vehicle exhaust, and other sources. We currently have 14 Purple Air sensors installed in the WOAQ monitoring network, and plan to install another half dozen or so.

Residents will be able to view air quality data from the WOAQ monitoring network later this summer.

Project timeline

Winter 2023-2024

Install first wave of sensors

Installed the first group of Purple Air and Combo sensors throughout the neighborhood at various residential and commercial locations.

Spring 2024

Community training and early data testing

We are actively collecting data and working with WOAQ participants to understand what their monitors are telling us.

Summer-Fall 2024

Ongoing monitoring and system refinements

We’ll share network data through an online portal, allowing residents to access and use the information to advocate for cleaner air.

This project is funded by a supplemental environmental grant from:

The California Air Resources Board is funding the WOAQ monitoring network through a SEP grant.

WOEIP is pleased to work with Sonoma Technology as our technical partner.

Sonoma Technology logo in blue