Alianza Coachella Valley and our academic partners are proud to share that the deployment and installation of an Aeroqual air quality sensor in the Salton Sea was completed in August of 2023. This is the first time an air sensor has been placed directly on top of the water to measure pollutants emanating from the Salton Sea, including hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen dioxide, and volatile organic compounds (VOC).Community Scientists installing the sensor in the Salton Sea

The new sensor is located at the northern end of the Salton Sea, which is where many communities are located in proximity to the shoreline. The project was initiated in response to community concerns about air quality connected to the water quality of the Salton Sea, particularly in regard to hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide creates the “rotten egg” smell that many people associate with the Salton Sea.

“This hydrogen sulfide sensor installation is a direct result of community leadership and coordination with academic institutions,” said Dr. Ryan Sinclair, Associate Professor in the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University. “It demonstrates a commitment to transparency and responsiveness to community concerns.”

The Aeroqual sensor deployment is crucial to the study of the Salton Sea because it’s a continuous source of data collection which allows for thorough data analysis, as well as identifying correlations or causations that implicate public health concerns. This sensor is especially important because water quality monitoring at the Salton Sea has historically been difficult due to infrastructure challenges (e.g. launching a boat off the shoreline, which can often have the consistency of quicksand).

“We know that there is a connection between air quality and water quality here and this sensor will unveil new dimensions of that connection,” said Dr. Mara Freilich, Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences at Brown University. “Even more urgently than scientific understanding, we need action to mitigate the environmental health impacts felt by residents around the Salton Sea. Working with the community science team, I am impressed by the creativity and commitment that everyone brings to using science for solutions.”

Additionally, this sensor allows us to validate hydrogen sulfide phenomenon events identified by the community and advocate for more intervention methods to clean or filter the water coming into or already in the Salton Sea.

The Aeroqual air quality sensor in the Salton Sea“The deployment of the air sensor on the water is the first time a project such as this one has been done at the Salton Sea,” said Aydee Palomino, Environmental Justice Project Manager for Alianza Coachella Valley. “Alianza and its partners did this in direct response to the community’s concern regarding hydrogen sulfide and the need to further study this phenomenon in order to understand what public health concerns this may be tied to, which can lead to more intervention methods in the Salton Sea region. We strongly encourage local, state, and federal agencies to take more urgent action regarding contamination at the Sea and we encourage our community to look at the data to connect the dots of what they live through on a yearly basis and what this sensor can bring to light by the collection and communication of data.”

Alianza Coachella Valley worked with our Eastern Coachella Valley community and in partnership with our academic partners, including the University of California – Los Angeles, Brown University, Loma Linda University, and the University of California-Riverside to make this project possible. We would like to thank Dr. Ryan Sinclair (Loma Linda University), Diego Centeno (Brown University), Dr. Isabella Arzeno-Soltero (UCLA), Dr. Mara Freilich (Brown University), Dr. Charlie Diamond (UCR), and Quinn Montgomery (M.B.S) for their hard work and expertise in order to install this much-needed sensor, as well as our community for their valuable input.

To learn more about the Aeroqual sensor, please visit: https://saltonseascience.org

Contact the Environmental Justice Campaign: Aydee Palomino, aydee@alianzacv.org
Media contact: Braxton Kellogg, braxton@alianzacv.org

 

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