Largest investment for community air monitoring in EPA history funded by President Biden’s Climate and Economic Plans
BOSTON (November 3, 2022) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected two Connecticut organizations to receive $568,755 in grants to conduct community air quality monitoring in Ansonia, Derby, and Stamford, Conn. The grants are among 132 air monitoring projects in 37 states which will receive $53.4 million from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and American Rescue Plan to enhance air quality monitoring in communities across the United States. The projects are focused on communities that are underserved, historically marginalized, and overburdened by pollution, supporting President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative.
“I’ve traveled across the country and visited communities who’ve suffered from unhealthy, polluted air for far too long. I pledged to change that by prioritizing underserved communities and ensuring they have the resources they need to confront longstanding pollution challenges,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The air monitoring projects we are announcing today, which include the first EPA grants funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, will ensure dozens of overburdened communities have the tools they need to better understand air quality challenges in their neighborhoods and will help protect people from the dangers posed by air pollution.”
“With these new air quality monitoring grants, EPA is delivering significant funding in Connecticut to improve air quality monitoring in and near underserved communities, support community efforts to monitor their own air quality, and promote air quality partnerships between communities and tribal, state, and local governments,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. “Thanks to the Biden Administration, this work will make a real difference leading to cleaner and healthier air for people in Ansonia, Derby, and Stamford.”
The EPA funding consists of two grants. Under the first grant, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CTDPH) will receive $500,000 with which DPH and project partners will develop a pilot project intended to raise community awareness of air pollutants using a community-based educational toolbox. The project will establish a network of low-cost air sensors to provide real-time measurements of pollutants of concern (PM2.5 and ozone) in environmental justice communities and provide training modules and an education and outreach campaign for community members to lead long-term air sensor network operation. The toolbox and real-time reporting dashboard will provide information about the effects of poor air quality days on health and link to existing programs to support community health.
Under the second grant, the City of Stamford will receive $68,755. Working with residents, the City of Stamford has developed plans for a comprehensive air quality monitoring program, focused on nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM2.5), and ozone (O3). Air quality monitoring will benefit historically marginalized residents in Stamford’s South End and West Side neighborhoods with goals of: (1) building the capacity to measure air pollution in real-time, (2) providing data to support strategies that mitigate air pollution, and (3) improving local health outcomes. Key outputs include community meetings, the installation of air quality monitors, and the development of a public web site; outcomes include increasing resident awareness, affecting behavior change, and reducing health disparities.
The air pollution monitoring projects are made possible by more than $30 million in Inflation Reduction Act funds, which supplemented $20 million from the American Rescue Plan and enabled EPA to support 77 additional projects, more than twice the number of projects initially proposed by community-based nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, and Tribal governments.
These grant selections further the goals of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative and Executive Order, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, which directed that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to overburdened communities that face disproportionately high and adverse health and environmental impacts. By enhancing air monitoring and encouraging partnerships with communities, EPA is investing in efforts to better protect people’s health, particularly those in underserved communities.
EPA will start the process to award the funding by the end of 2022, once the grant applicants have met all legal and administrative requirements. Grantees will have three years to spend the funds from the time EPA awards the grants.
See the full list of applications selected for award.
In spring 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, providing EPA with a one-time supplemental appropriation of $100 million to address health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic. Half of that $100 million, was dedicated to air quality monitoring. EPA Regions began awarding nearly $22.5 million from this appropriation in 2022 as direct awards to state, tribal, and local air agencies for continuous monitoring of fine particle and other common pollutants. In addition, EPA Regions are in the process of procuring monitoring equipment using $5 million in American Rescue Plan funding to advance the EPA Regional Offices’ mobile air monitoring capacity and establish air sensor loan programs. . These investments will improve EPA’s ability to support communities that need short-term monitoring and air quality information.
In July 2021, EPA announced the $20 million American Rescue Plan Enhanced Air Quality Monitoring for Communities Grant Competition. The goal of this competition was to improve air quality monitoring in and near underserved communities across the United States, support community efforts to monitor their own air quality, and promote air quality monitoring partnerships between communities and tribal, state, and local governments. EPA received more than 200 applications in response to the competition.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 provides funding to EPA to deploy, integrate, support, and maintain fenceline air monitoring, screening air monitoring, national air toxics trend stations, and other air toxics and community monitoring. Specifically, the Inflation Reduction Act provides funding for grants and other activities under section 103 and section 105 of the Clean Air Act. EPA is using approximately $32.3 million of this funding to select 77 high-scoring community monitoring applications.
What They Are Saying
“Air quality monitoring systems are crucial for detecting airborne viruses and other hazardous substances in our homes, schools, and communities. Major climate investments in the Inflation Reduction Act enable EPA to support community outreach and education on the dangers of poor air quality and the City of Stamford’s comprehensive air monitoring program. I am proud to have fought for this funding to improve the health of Connecticut residents,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.
“These EPA grants are a major investment in the health and safety of Connecticut communities that have been most impacted by pollution. Connecticut faces some of the worst air quality in New England, and climate change will only make this problem worse. Thanks to funding from the Inflation Reduction Act and the American Rescue Plan, local governments and community-based organizations will be able to monitor air quality—an essential component in improving the health outcomes of people living in underserved neighborhoods and the state as a whole,” said Senator Chris Murphy.
“With global warming an ever-increasing crisis, community awareness of air pollutants is vital to protecting families in Connecticut,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. “The Connecticut Department of Health’s pilot project in Ansonia and Derby will establish a network of low-cost air sensors to provide real-time measurements of pollutants in environmental justice communities and provide the adequate education and digital access to community partners for supporting local public health. This grant is a step forward in reducing pollution and improving air quality, which will allow our state to meet the necessary health-based standards.”
“I applaud the EPA for investing in air quality monitoring and mitigation for the people of Stamford. The effects of climate change, including air pollution, disproportionately harm marginalized communities. These funds from the American Rescue Plan will make a meaningful impact on the long-term health of Connecticut residents, and I am proud to help deliver them to my district,” said Congressman Jim Himes.