Soon, residents of the Kern County city of Arvin
will be taking the job of monitoring their contaminated air into their own
hands, the Bakersfield Californian first reported Sept. 15.
With the training and guidance of El Cerrito-based
non-profit Global Community Monitor, Arvin residents will begin testing their
own air quality. Using a grassroots air monitoring program known as “bucket
brigades,” residents will test the air they breathe for particulate
matters 2.5 and 10 – both of which can get deep into the lungs and cause
serious health problems. Residents can also use the monitors to find out what
pollution sources are emitting those particles.
Arvin, which is located at the base of the San
Joaquín Valley, has earned national recognition for having some of the worst air
quality in the country. Residents have told me about the high incidences of asthma and
Valley fever in their city, which is 89.9 percent Latino.
The air monitor in Arvin was recently moved, resulting in improved air quality readings
–but residents say there have been few actual improvements.
“We know that Arvin is one of the most affected
communities in the nation,” said Gustavo Aguirre, of the Center for Race,
Poverty and the Environment in Delano. “Now that the monitor that they
used to have was moved away from the community, it looks like the air is good
in Arvin, and that’s not the case. This is something the community really,
The bucket brigade project will inform Arvin
residents of the true quality of their air, and allow them to advocate for
changes, said Denny Larson, executive director of Global Community Monitor. In
past campaigns, he said, the project helps increase community participation in
air quality issues, and increases involvement with regulatory agencies.
“The community is going to be setting the campaign
debate about what specific things they want to get done in Arvin,” he said.
“The bucket brigade is a tool to help the community achieve its goals. It’s
largely driven by what they want to do.”
An initial meeting for the project will be held next
here’s a little more good news: In the second year of
this project, Global Community Monitor will explore expanding the bucket
brigade project to other Valley communities that breathe polluted air. Stay
tuned for more information!