Last year, ImpactNV (in collaboration with the City of Las Vegas, the Clark County Library District, Make the Road Nevada, and Desert Research Institute) was awarded a $200k Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to monitor air quality and mitigate the effects of extreme heat in East Las Vegas. From this funding we created Buen Aire Para Todos which means “Clean Air for All” in Spanish. This program aligns with our mission and guiding principles because access to clean air is a social, economic, and environmental sustainability issue. We chose to focus on East Las Vegas because residents of East Las Vegas (pop. 101,685) are disproportionally impacted by poor air quality and extreme heat, due to factors such as pollution from major highways, older homes without air conditioning, low access to personal vehicles, and low incomes (median household income = $29,994).
Since funding was awarded, we have been working with the EPA to get final approval on our data project plan as well as with our partner organizations to purchase the PurpleAir indoor and outdoor air quality sensors, identify resident interest in the program, and plan the launch. We officially launched the program at the East Las Vegas Library on February 1st. The launch was fully bilingual (with Spanish translation provided in real time). Approximately 75 residents of East Las Vegas attended the event to hear more bout the program and how it can benefit the community. Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, Marco Velotta from the City of Las Vegas, Derek Kauneckis of the Desert Research Institute, Kelvin Watson of the Library District, Jose Rivera of Make the Road Nevada, and our board member and president, Dave Ray spoke about the importance of monitoring and reporting on air quality and how it effects the health of the community. The residents also signed an interest form to receive an indoor air quality monitor in their homes. Resident buy-in is imperative as this program aims to create true citizen-scientists who are engaged and educated about air quality so they are aware of the short and long term impacts of air quality on their businesses, families, neighbors, and their community as a whole.
Next, interested participants will be finalized to host the indoor air quality monitors in their homes and outdoor air quality monitors at their businesses and we can start gathering and reporting real time air quality information with the help of PurpleAir. The data (which will be gathered over the next two years) will be analyzed by our partners with special expertise from Desert Research Institute. We will compile a report of the findings which will include recommendations to the City of Las Vegas on how resources could be used most effectively and equitably to improve air quality in East Las Vegas. Additionally, the East Las Vegas Library will also be hosting a sensor and will provide an educational display about air quality and air quality monitoring over the course of the program.
Ruth has worked for ImpactNV for over 5 years as a project coordinator and project manager. She started by helping to schedule many of the approximately 18,000 home energy assessments we completed through a contract with NV Energy. She then transitioned to working on the Immigrant Immigration Toolkit and website/social media content. She is also a grad student, working on completing her PhD in political theory at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.