University of Washington School of Public Health

UW SPH News: Mapping the time and place of West Oakland's air pollution

Mapping the time and place of West Oakland's air pollution


Adam Szpiro, associate professor of biostatistics at the University of Washington School of Public Health, has received a $110,176 grant from the Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. to produce fine-scale maps at an hourly time scale of ambient black carbon levels across West Oakland, California.

Black carbon is the sooty black material emitted from gas and diesel engines, coal-fired power plants, and other sources that burn fossil fuel. It comprises a significant portion of particulate matter, or PM, an air pollutant known to be unhealthy to humans.

“This type of hyper-local exposure characterization can be used to identify times and places where community members are most at risk,” Szpiro said. “This information may be leveraged to implement policies that limit the most dangerous emissions and/or to educate residents about ways to modify their activities to mitigate health risks.”

Szpiro plans to use data from the 100x100 campaign, which distributed aerosol black carbon detector sensors across 100 high-traffic locations in West Oakland. At each site, the sensors measured black carbon concentrations at one-minute intervals for about 100 days. Future work will incorporate mobile air quality data from the StreetView campaign, pending the results of planned co-location and cross-calibration of the sensors.

Learn more about Szpiro.