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UCLA Air Quality Discussion

UCLA Air Quality Discussion



In this week’s discussion, you will do some research into your local air quality. Keep in mind that there are many parallels between air quality and climate change causes and solutions.

Air Quality Websites

Air Quality Index (AQI): Look here for more information about AQILinks to an external site.. It includes information about ozone, PM2.5, and PM10, the most widespread and damaging forms of air pollution.

ALSO CONSIDER: For additional context for your local air pollution, The New York Times has an interactive infographicLinks to an external site. that allows you to compare your air pollution levels to those in the most polluted cities in the world. You have access to the NYT as a student – simply do a search on the Library website and follow the steps to set up a free account.

Air Quality in the U.S.: AirNowLinks to an external site. is a site operated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that presents data from EPA’s vast network of air quality monitoring sites.

NOTE: AirNow is often down for maintenance from 9p-1a (Pacific time); please plan your schedule to complete this assignment accordingly. If AirNow is not accessible, please go to IQAirLinks to an external site. and answer the questions below as well as you can!

Air Quality around the world: IQAirLinks to an external site. or WindyLinks to an external site.. You will need to explore the data and layers in Windy to find the information you need!

Long term air quality trends:

For the US, AirNow has long term trends under AirCompare HomeLinks to an external site.. Scroll to the map at the bottom of the page and use the “Trend” and “Seasons” dropdowns. For locations in the US or around the world,

Berkeley EarthLinks to an external site. is a non-profit that accumulates worldwide air quality data and displays it in graphics. It can be somewhat tricky to locate the specific data, but try to find the long-term trends for your area. The New York Times interactive infographicLinks to an external site. uses data from this site to create the long term air quality graphics.

For example, for cities in the US:

  • Navigate to the air quality page for the USLinks to an external site.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and a list of states and click on the one you are interested in
  • Scroll to the bottom of the state page and click on the cities listed
  • Here you will find long term air quality trends

Consider the human dimensions (optional): In Week 2 you learned about environmental justice and racism. Air quality is among the top causes of premature death around the world, but not everyone is equally impacted. This is a key battleground for social equity in the US, with historical systems of oppression continuing to impact lives today. People of color are much more likely to have polluting industries and high-traffic highways built near their homes due partly to the historical practice of redlining. Consider the following resources for an introduction to these issues:

Important reminder: We require all discussion posts to be uploaded to the companion TurnItIn Check assignment so it can be evaluated to assess your use of sources and effective paraphrasing. If you do not submit your response to BOTH assignments you cannot receive credit.

You may want to review the discussion guidelines.

Discussion Prompt

Please follow the instructions outlined below for your initial and response posts.

Initial Post (10 points)

In a paragraph or two, please address the following:

  • What is the current AQI for your location, or the nearest location to you that has data?
  • What is the primary contributor to air pollution in your area?
    • Power plants? Vehicles and heavy equipment? Wood burning? Agriculture? Something else? If you don’t know, look it up!
    • Hint: This is a great place to find a citation for your post – look for news articles about air quality!
  • What is the long term air quality in your area? Are there seasonal or other trends? When is it worst? When is it best? Why?
    • If you can’t find specific data, use your personal experience. Keep in mind that your intuition may be incorrect!
    • For the U.S., you can find data about long-term and seasonal trends on the AirNow website, AirCompare HomeLinks to an external site.. Scroll to the map at the bottom of the page and use the “Trend” and “Seasons” dropdowns.

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