Breaking News
More () »

'Information is power': Air quality monitors coming to southeast side of Grand Rapids

Residents are asked to share their thoughts on where the devices should be installed at a community event Thursday evening.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An $100,000 grant is being invested in the Grand Rapids southeast side to help promote air quality and health in the city's most diverse community.

There are already several air quality monitors in the city, and the community is now invited to share their thoughts on where more of this technology should go in the 49507 zip code.

"The more information you're armed with, the more you're able to protect yourself," Darren Riley, CEO and Co-Founder of JustAir, says. 

At Sixth Street Park in Grand Rapids, you may have noticed a small air quality monitor attached to a light pole. The device analyzes how clean the air is in real time.

"The average human being takes 20,000 breaths per day," Riley says. "We want to make sure that when you're taking that one breath in every moment that you're taking in the right things, that are going into your body to have you have a long life."

To improve quality of life, the Michigan-based startup JustAir is bringing more air quality monitors to the city's southeast side to ensure everybody's well-being. 

"In order to do that, we have to make sure that in communities, one has to have awareness, but also have the agency and the power to understand what's going on in their environment to make changes," Riley says. 

This is an effort with the Community Collaboration on Climate Change, or C4. The grant was awarded by the Environmental Justice Data Fund, created and seeded by Google.org.

"We want them to be informed about clean air, and the fact that they have access to information. Information is power," Ned Andree, C4 Project Coordinator, says. 

He grew up in the 49507 zip code, and he knows firsthand how peoples' health can be tied to their community.

"When I began to learn about the social determinants of health and that people had less quality of life and air, breathing problems, asthma and emphysema, and a whole host of things, there's real health impact on people's lives," Andree says. "That's my neighbors. That's my family. Those are my people. So, I was very concerned."

The organizations want to hear from the community on where exactly the seven new monitors should be installed.

"We know that historically, the BIPOC community has been marginalized haven't been at the table haven't been had access to leadership haven't been resourced," Andree says. 

The community feedback workshop is March 23 at 6 p.m. at 1530 Madison Avenue Southeast in Grand Rapids. 

Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@13onyourside.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Before You Leave, Check This Out