Improving Local Air Quality

Granite City, Illinois

Featured image for the project, Improving Local Air Quality

Description

The Challenge

Granite City is a small Midwestern town that is struggling with a legacy of air pollution.  Much of this pollution is attributed to a local steel mill, which is also an important economic engine for the city.  The steel mill has taken steps to reduce its emissions, but many residents are still dubious about the overall quality of the air.

 

The economic development director of Granite City, IL, James Amos, is working with local scientific partner Jay Turner to review the local sustainability plan.  This work will include helping to monitor air quality in a way that is accessible to and engaging to city residents, working with city residents and leaders to understand and inform local perceptions of air quality, and, perhaps most importantly, brainstorming and implementing visible and effective ways to further improve air quality. This project began in  May 2015, and will over the course of 18 months, improve air quality and help Granite City’s residents feel better about their air.

 

Timeline and Anticipated Outcome

The economic development director of Granite City, IL has found a scientific partner to work with the city on local air quality.  This work will include helping to monitor air quality in a way that is accessible to and engaging to city residents, working with city residents and leaders to understand and inform local perceptions of air quality, and, perhaps most importantly, brainstorming and implementing visible and effective ways to further improve air quality. A successful project will, over the course of 18 months, improve air quality and help Granite Ciy’s residents feel better about their air.

Updates

Student Research to Advance Sustainability

James Amos, the Economic Development Director of Granite City, and Dr. Jay Turner, Granite City’s scientific partner, are collaborating to help Granite City’s Cool Cities Commission finalize the city’s sustainability plan. Granite City aims to implement specific parts of the sustainability plan with Dr. Turner’s expertise in air quality.

 

Dr. Turner and his team of PhD and undergraduate students plan to engage in two projects that complement the city’s sustainability plan objectives: 1) complete a preliminary greenhouse gas inventory and 2) conduct passive sampling of particulate matter in the city. Undergraduate students enrolled in a for-credit class, “The Sustainability Exchange,” will devote 10-15 hours per week – for a total of 400-500 hours during the semester – developing a greenhouse gas inventory for Granite City and will have the opportunity to visit the city during the semester. Meanwhile, Dr. Turner’s PhD students, with the assistance of undergraduate researchers, will take the lead on discovering the origins of particulate matter emissions across the city.

 

Concerns expressed by the Granite City community about dust and visible particles settling onto city surfaces inspired this particulate matter research. However, a major challenge that Dr. Turner and his team face is their inability to obtain timely information about the operations of local emissions sources such as the steel mill, i.e. whether and for how long they are operating. Mr. Amos promised to ensure that the research team will be provided such information from the city as available.

 

Furthermore, eighty percent of Granite City’s sustainability plan has been completed, with the exception of the air quality component. By the end of July 2016, Granite City and the Cool Cities Commission expect to finalize the complete sustainability plan. Afterwards, the team will begin to think about moving forward with the implementation process. Execution of the sustainability plan will be facilitated by the inputs of Dr. Turner during the editing and review phase; he is in the process of suggesting language that will enable the city to translate elements of the sustainability plan into short-term success, thereby putting the city on the pathway to sustainability.

Greenhouse Gas inventory and Particulate Matter sampling

All updates for this project

Project Team

The Scientific Liaison

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Dr. Jay Turner was selected as the scientific partner for the Granite City challenge. Jay is Associate Professor of Energy, Environmental, and Chemical Engineering and Vice Dean for Education in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis. His research focuses on air quality planning, management, and health impacts with emphasis on field studies and data analysis. He is a past president of the American Association for Aerosol Research (AAAR) and currently serves on the Science Advisory Board (SAB) to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The City Leader

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James Amos is the Economic Development Director for the City of Granite City, Illinois.  A life-long resident of the St. Louis Metro-East Illinois area, James has been tasked with fully implementing Granite City’s new Economic Development Strategic Action Plan (2015).  Formerly, James helped found the successful non-profit Mission: St. Louis, which works to holistically redevelop impoverished neighborhoods and their people.

Collaborating Organization(s)

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ICLEI USA – Local Governments for Sustainability and American Geophysical Union (AGU)’s Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) partnered to advance knowledge and practices contributing to climate resilient communities across the United States.