Discipline: Biological Sciences
Room: Exhibit Hall
Amanda L. Santiago Santiago - University of Puerto Rico Aguadilla Campus
Co-Author(s): Nancy R. Cardona-Cordero, University of Puerto Rico, Aguadilla Campus
Particulate matter (PM) is a combination of different liquid and solid droplets, as well as organic components such as nitrate and sulfate. PM has been associated with health-related issues such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, affecting the wellbeing of the general population and especially vulnerable ones (children, elderly). Purple Air are low-cost monitors that detect concentration of particulate matter of 1.0, 2.5 and 10 microns in our environment. The Purple Air monitors helps to indicate the mean of particulate material concentration every ten minutes in a 24 hour/day. For many years, the rural and low-income town of Guayama in Puerto Rico has experience health effects that may be related to particulate matter exposure. Our goal in this research project that transitions from quantitative to qualitative was to 1) promote a report-back culture with local organizations in southern Puerto Rico, and 2) gather the community’s feedback of this tool to assess resilience. We hypothesized that participants would increase their trust in research by using continuous report back. Our second hypothesis is by implementing this project, participants will make safer choices. This innovative system was introduced to a small community in Guayama, Puerto Rico in Spring of 2021 to help better understand the amount of air pollution that there were exposed to. The Covid-19 pandemic limited the amount of time that we could visit our study site (n=2). However, we were able to visit the community to provide a summary of the over 100 graph data of particulate matter between January 1st to April 1st. In brief, our results show that they at least two peeks of higher PM2.5 concentration; between 11:00pm and 3:00am and between 7:00am and 10:00am. In addition, we were able to collect participants feedback on establishing the air monitor system, the results and having access to the information through their phones. “I feel comfortable with the students and professor coming each semester and providing results, but since I have access to see the levels of particulate matter from my phone, I look them up before going outside my house” expressed one participant. The Purple Air system has shown promising results in the health and emotional wellbeing of its residents. We hope that these results will lead to further investigations in other towns through the island. This may be the beginning of an innovative effort to improve environmental health literacy, health awareness and the air quality of Puerto Rico. Future studies should analyze integrate emotional and environmental health among Puerto Ricans.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): MSEIP
Faculty Advisor: Nancy R. Cardona-Cordero, email@example.com
Role: I helped create and present the different data graphs of the particulate material that was affecting the community of Guayama.