City of Kitchener partners with WLU, Hemmera, to improve our air quality

By: Kw Now Local News
| Published 09/24/2021

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City of Kitchener partners with WLU, Hemmera, to improve air quality

'As Kitchener continues to grow, emissions from vehicles and buildings reduce our air quality.' - Mayor Berry Vrbanovic

KITCHENER- A research team has installed air-quality monitoring systems as part of a collaborative research project between the City of Kitchener, Wilfrid Laurier University and Hemmera Envirochem Inc. The project aims to collect real-time air pollution data to inform the City’s Corporate Climate Action Plan and to protect young people from poor air quality. (View action plan at link below.)

“The World Health Organization’s newly released air pollution guidelines show us just how important air quality concerns are for big cities across the globe,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. "As the City of Kitchener continues to grow, emissions from vehicles and buildings reduce our air quality and take a toll on the health of our community. This innovative air quality project and partnership is one way we’re working to protect residents from harmful emissions.”

Leading this project is Hind Al-Abadleh, a professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Wilfrid Laurier University. Al-Abadleh received initial funding for the pilot program from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and added research funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Exceptional Opportunities Fund (CFI-EOF). The funding has supported the project with essential equipment such as air quality pods.

Last fall, the team installed air quality pods near four local schools and one near Victoria Park to collect several different data points at 15-minute intervals.

“We are collecting real-time air quality data near schools throughout the year,” said Courtney Zinn, the Innovation Lab Director for the City of Kitchener. “Children are especially vulnerable to the risks of air pollution, and we are looking to measure how air quality is affected by passing vehicles and other pollutants.”

The City has recently created a dashboard (See link below)to show the latest data collected from each pod. Residents can also view the complete dataset through the City’s open data portal. Based on the results, the City will consider developing new practices and changes in programming that can minimize the community’s exposure to pollutants.