Participatory Science Walk

Image of a group of people taking a picture.

What is Participatory Science? 


Participatory science is the direct engagement of the general public in advancing scientific knowledge. Climate Resolve facilitates this engagement by hosting Participatory Science Walks. During these walks, community members learn to use scientific tools to measure air pollution, noise pollution, thermal heat, and temperatures in their surroundings. Additionally, participants collect qualitative and quantitative data that help them understand the conditions of their built environment.

To ensure efficient data collection, participants are divided into small groups with designated tool users and notetakers. Groups then walk along predetermined 1-mile routes, which are deliberately designed to showcase diverse environments, such as industrial and residential landscapes. After the walks, everyone reconvenes to share their findings, compare the routes, and connect through their lived experiences.

The goal of our Participatory Science Walks is to foster an empowered community that is not only aware of climate change impacts, but is also actively involved in developing solutions. The data participants collect in their living, working, and recreational spaces bring awareness to environmental issues and can help pave the way for urban improvements to mitigate these environmental hazards.

Tools


Air quality, noise pollution, thermal heat, and temperature are important indicators of environmental health and can impact the well-being of folks who inhabit the area. We provide the following scientific tools to measure these indicators:

  • The AirBeam3 Air Quality Monitor
  • NIOSH Sound Level Meter App
  • FLIR One Pro Thermal Camera
  • Infrared Laser Thermometers
photo of air quality monitors on a table.

AirBeam3 Air Quality Monitor 


The AirBeam3 Air Quality Monitors are portable air monitors with ratings akin to those used by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. We use these monitors in our Participatory Science Walks to assess air quality, which is a measure of how clean or polluted the air is. 

More specifically, we measure the concentration of PM2.5 in the air. PM2.5 refers to microscopic particles that significantly contribute to poor air quality. High PM2.5 concentrations are associated with adverse health effects, including lung irritation, difficulty breathing, premature death, asthma, and heart attacks. 

Understanding and monitoring PM2.5 levels is important because they offer insights into potential health hazards around us. Common sources of air pollution include cars, trucks, planes, gas stoves, factories, and wildfires.

NIOSH Sound Level Meter App


The NIOSH Sound Level Meter App is a popular workplace tool used to measure sound levels. Sound is measured in decibels, which tell us how intense a sound is to our ears. Noise pollution is a term used to describe unwanted sounds to people. Recent research indicates frequent or prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 decibels can cause irreversible hearing damage, high blood pressure, stress, and other health issues. 

We use the NIOSH Sound Level Meter App in our walks to bring awareness to the different sound levels that community members are constantly exposed to. Common sources of noise pollution include road traffic, construction, nearby businesses, and air traffic.

Person holding up a phone.
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FLIR One Pro Thermal Camera


The FLIR One Pro Thermal Camera can show us heat differences that we cannot see with the naked eye alone. It can show the hottest and coldest temperature points in an image, which can allow us to pinpoint areas that could benefit from urban greening or other cooling strategies. In Los Angeles, where climate change intensifies extreme heat conditions, the ability to monitor heat disparities is important. 

During Participatory Science Walks, the thermal cameras help reveal the high temperatures that people are constantly exposed to. Extreme heat puts people at risk of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, cardiovascular disease, and more. 

Infrared Laser Thermometer


Temperature measures how hot or cold something is. We use infrared laser thermometers during our Participatory Science Walk to measure surface temperatures. This is particularly relevant in Los Angeles, where one of the main impacts of climate change is extreme heat. Measuring surface temperatures helps us gauge the temperatures people are experiencing. 

By measuring surface temperatures, we can also understand how the different materials in our urban environment contribute to the urban heat island effect. For example, comparing areas near exposed or shaded bus stops can help reveal the benefits of urban cooling strategies and assess the effectiveness of interventions aimed at mitigating rising temperatures.

Person holding up digital temperature reader.

Testimonials

"It’s like we are in a zone of grenades, ticking time bombs where the traffic, the noise, and the pollution affect all of us. It’s why so many of us suffer from pulmonary, auditory, and mental health issues."
Susana C.
Boyle Heights Community Member
"We were walking along a residential neighborhood that’s right by a freeway. When I looked at the thermal camera, it was interesting to see the temperature rising in the neighborhood due to the proximity to cars and traffic."
Guille Q.
Boyle Heights Community Member
"I learned how vastly heat, air, and sound quality can change in a single neighborhood. Various factors like proximity to highways, tree foliage, shaded structures, sidewalks, and urban greening can affect the quality of life in an area."
Anonymous Participant
Boyle Heights Participatory Science Walk

Upcoming Events

Channel your inner scientist! 🥼🌱 Join Climate Resolve and Promesa Boyle Heights for our 2nd Participatory Science Walk on Saturday, April 6, from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM at Lou Costello Jr. Recreation Center, 3141 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90023.

During this FREE event, you will learn to use scientific tools to measure air quality, noise pollution, and temperature! Enjoy free food, raffle giveaways, and a chance to connect with your community!

Interested in Collaborating?

Climate Resolve has previously partnered with Promesa Boyle Heights, Mujeres de la Tierra, and Pacoima Beautiful to host Participatory Science Walks. If you’re interested in partnering with us, please contact Catherine Baltazar at cbaltazar@climateresolve.org