Have A Seat: EPA Builds Air Monitor Bench

Jun 24, 2013

Tammi Masters and daughter, Rowan Jaynes, sit on new solar-powered air monitoring bench built by the EPA.
Credit Leoneda Inge

The Environmental Protection Agency has developed a new way to monitor air pollution and it includes a park bench.  There’s a new bench outside the South Regional Public Library in Durham . It’s the only one of its kind in the country.  If you sit down – and look up – you see solar panels and a spinning wind sensor.  And you can use your smart phone to scan a QR barcode to get up to the minute air quality stats.

EPA Environmental Engineer Gayle Hagler helped design the bench which also includes sensors for ozone pollutants and black carbon.  

“It’s more expensive than just a park bench.  But it is about 10-percent the cost or less of how we put up some of our monitoring stations for other research studies," said Hagler.

The EPA says it’ll review data from this prototype for the next year and maybe, the next phase will include building playground equipment with air monitors.

The air monitor bench was built in partnership with Durham County and is part of the Village Green Project.  The South Regional library will also display a colored flag on its flagpole to let the community know the area air quality index rating.  Green means conditions are 'good' for outside activity.