While air quality in Australia is considered relatively clean compared to many countries around the world, it should not be taken for granted. As seen recently in the summer of 2019-2020, an extreme natural phenomenon, labelled as a national bushfire crisis, dominated news headlines and raised substantial interest from the public.
The ILAQH has been awarded a new Advance Queensland – Queensland Citizen Science Grants from the Queensland Government, titled: “The Air is Fair, Here and There”: Queensland communities assessing and comparing air quality.
The aim of this project is to better satisfy the concern and curiosity of citizens by putting air quality information in their hands, thereby empowering them. Bushfire events are predicted to worsen with a changing climate, however, these may be mitigated if authorities, policy-makers and the public have better informed discussions around air quality and conditions which deteriorate it; this is the specific scientific research issue we want to address – can concern over air quality by lessened when citizens are empowered to have open discussions.
We have 5 Queensland schools participating in the project. In all the schools there are our KOALA monitors placed, measuring ambient particulate matter (PM2.5) and carbon monoxide.
On Wednesday the 18 August, the first interactive and very successful Webinar took place . It was hosted from QUT, with the Queensland schools and students connected via Zoom. Ms Geraldine Barlow, Curatorial Manager of International Art from the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art (QAGoMA) was present at QUT, and Craig Ray, Lawyer at Craig Ray & Associates also connected virtually. Mr Gordan Dellit, Head of Science at The Gap State High Sschool and Professor Carman Gaina, Head of School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at QUT, opened the webinar. The second webinar is planned for Wednesday, 20 October 2021.
For more information about the project and the Webinar, please visit the Queensland Citizen Science project page.