Heal the Air – Lauren Heberle
Lauren Heberle, director of the University of Louisville Center for Environmental Policy and Management (CEPM), is the lead investigator of the community engagement component at the UofL Superfund Research Center, an organization focused on the health impacts of Volatile Organic Compounds. VOCs are present in the air we breathe and cause diseases that range from asthma to cancer. Lauren’s center has helped bring two monitoring devices to Louisville that track this harmful carcinogen.
One device is called the Smell My City App. Developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, this app allows folks the ability to record how the air smells and any physical/medical problems they might be having as a result. Community organizations and air quality advocates can see reports on a map in real time. The creators view this as another method in air quality advocates’ toolkit for demanding better regulations and repercussions for those responsible for creating the emissions. REACT and West Jefferson County Task Force are supporting it and are hoping to get substantive community use.
The second device, Bike Sense, is public art grant recipient Todd Smith’s work that installs air monitors on volunteers’ bikes. The mobile monitors show, in real time, what our air quality is from the perspective of cyclists. The UofL Superfund Center collaborated with the director of Bike Sense to request riders to stop at three locations along the Louisville Loop that are near Lees Lane Landfill and Rubbertown; cyclists are encouraged to use the SmellMyCity app at those points in time. The idea is to figure out a way to link the two measures of air pollutants and smells in time and space. Both of these measures inform researchers on trends in air quality so that they can address our city’s pollutants.