Interpreting Air Quality Data to the Public | NAAEE

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Interpreting Air Quality Data to the Public

Hello all. I recently started a new position as the Environmental Education Coordinator with Michigan's regulatory environmental agency, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. My work focuses on the K-12 and college/university age ranges as well as assistance with some general public outreach. Our outreach person for the Air Quality Division recently posed an interesting question to me about data visualization that I would love to get insight on. When we hold public meetings around air quality permits, people have a hard time understanding what the proposed emissions of a project mean. She told me, and I quote: "When we say 100 tons of VOC emissions, people imagine 100 trucks falling on their house" (LOL) With water quality, we're able to make some easier to understand comparisons, like a PPT is one drop in an olympic swimming pool. But we haven't been able to come up with an easier way to visualize or interpret the ppt/ppb/ppm and tons type emissions with air. Curious if anyone has some thoughts!

Someone else shared the carbon resource with me recently too - very cool, thank you! I'm not an air quality expert, but I assume we would have to change sizes of the items pictured based on the different molecular structure and/or chemistry with different pollutants? Like if we wanted to display NOx instead of CO2? Any air chemistry experts in the room, haha?