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E-M:/ Release: Residents to take air pollution monitoring into their own hands Saturday in Detroit

November 6, 2008



Ahmina Maxey, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, 248-245-6645

Denny Larson, Global Community Monitor, 415-845-4705




Detroit Community Groups Launch Air Monitoring in Toxic Hot Spots with Training from Global Pollution Watchdog

On Saturday, city residents will learn to test their air with a method developed by Erin Brockovich


Detroit, Michigan – Community groups are hosting a team of international pollution busters, the Global Community Monitor, to learn how to measure air contamination in their own neighborhoods this Saturday.


The East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) and partner groups organized the trainings, which will be preceded on Friday when neighbors will give GCM staff a “Toxic Tour” of pollution sites starting in Southwest Detroit.


On Saturday, volunteers from communities all over the state will participate in training on how to obtain their own air samples starting at 9:00 am at the University of Michigan’s Detroit Center at 3663 Woodward Avenue.  The groups will return to their neighborhoods to record their samples and begin gathering evidence in support of campaigns to reduce harmful local pollution.


The monitors track particulate matter pollution from diesel emissions, incineration and other toxic sources.


The "Bucket Brigade" is a simple, but effective, tool that dozens of communities use to determine what chemicals are in the air.  Armed with their own data and information about the health effects of chemicals, these communities are winning impressive reductions of pollution, safety improvements and increasing enforcement of environmental laws.


The "Bucket Brigade" is named for an easy to use air sampling device housed inside a 5 gallon plastic bucket, not unlike the ones janitors use for mopping floors.  The "Bucket" was developed in Northern California in 1995 by an environmental engineering firm to simplify and reduce the costs of widely accepted methods used for testing toxic gases in the air. This plastic bucket is becoming an essential tool to help communities clean up air pollution.


The idea originated in 1995 with Edward Masry, the attorney who worked with environmental activist Erin Brockovich.  Angry about a release of toxic fumes from an oil refinery in Contra Costa County, Calif., he sought a way for ordinary people to document air pollution.  The result: a user-friendly device, housed inside a bucket that can "grab" and store air samples for analysis.


"The Global Community Monitor took this idea of simplifying environmental sampling and has developed a whole tool kit of methods to test for particulate pollution, heavy metals and a wide range of toxins," said Denny Larson, who will be conducting the Detroit workshop


Ahmina Maxey from East Michigan Environmental Action Council says, “This is exactly what we have been looking for. We know that the air quality around schools is not suitable for children to play and learn, but now we will have proof!  We can also give neighbors and youth the tools they need to do something about the polluted air.


"We will get lab results that will determine exactly what we are being exposed to and know whether or not these are safe levels for school age children and residents to be exposed to. Once we receive the results we will compare them to the Environmental Protection Agency’s data and talk to local lawmakers about the results.”


It is the beginning of a three-year partnership between Global Community Monitor (GCM) and EMEAC through a partial grant from the University of Michigan, Environmental Support Center, and educational mini-grants for Youth Global Warming solutions awarded to Detroit teachers by the National Wildlife Federation.