A $25,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Citizen Science Grant announced Thursday will allow St. Croix Environmental Association to study vehicle pollution on the island.
“There’s been a lot of conversation about industrial pollution but vehicular pollution is overlooked,” SEA Director Paul Chakroff said.
Chakroff said he believes St. Croix has a vehicular pollution problem, particularly when it comes to “heavy” trucks like those that deliver water, so this is an opportunity to match the science with what he regularly observes.
The project will train at least 30 high school and university students and three teachers to review vehicle air pollution information, collect and analyze vehicular traffic and air pollution data, and develop recommendations based on their research. Project participants will then present their findings in town hall meetings throughout St. Croix.
“People care deeply about clean air and clean water in their own communities,” EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said in a press release. “This funding will help inform local residents about the environmental conditions in their own backyards.”
The study will have the students from St. Croix Educational Complex, Central High School and the University of the Virgin Islands located at various locations along Centerline Road and at various times. Controls will be set up off the road.
They will make visual observations that will correlate with those recorded by a monitor.
Chakroff said he anticipates the project to begin in November or December. It will wrap up by the end of the school year.
Once the data is gathered, analyzed and reported, Chakroff said it could mean a push for checking air pollution emissions when vehicles are inspected by the Motor Vehicle Bureau.
“The next stop would be to go to the senators,” he said, referring to those who would have to pass a law mandating emission inspections.
Chakroff said this is the first EPA Citizen Science grant received by SEA.
According to the EPA, citizen science enlists the public in collecting a wide range of environmental data and is an important tool for expanding scientific knowledge and literacy.