Serving Metropolitan Detroit Since 1944

Wayne County Deploys Air Quality Monitoring Network in Southwest Detroit and Other Downriver Communities

Americans continue to be harmed by the air quality that surrounds them, each and every time they step outside of their homes, etc. About 1 in 4 Americans and close to 120 million people live in areas where, the quality of air creates health issues and the end result leads to death. Unfortunately, those who are most disproportionately affected are people of color, according to the American Lung Association. Research shows that, "African Americans tend to live where there is greater exposure to air pollution. Socioeconomic position also appears tied to the greater harm from air pollution."

Did you know that Detroit often appears near the top of the list of the most polluted cities in Michigan? According to, the site states that the "degree of air pollution in Detroit varies depending on the pollutant and the location in the city. Study after study continued to reveal that in Wayne County, the area known as "Southwest Detroit" has some of the highest levels of air pollution, not just in the state but, in the nation.

Just last week, in Southwest Detroit, Wayne County officials announced the completed network of 100 air quality monitoring systems, with live data collection, that will be available to all Wayne County residents. This gives residents a new tool, in which they can gauge the air quality by themselves, at any given day or time. Especially those living with respiratory issues and other health concerns.

Last Wednesday, outdoors at the corner of Visger and S. Electric, Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans was joined by community leaders and other leaders that worked so diligently on the air quality monitoring project. Residents along with members of the media, left with a new insight on why the air has such poor air quality. Manly due to the surrounding factories that over the decades emitted harmful chemicals and other particles into the air. Traffic is also included in contributing factor of poor air quality. That is because, Interstate I-75 runs right through the area for more than 4 miles.

Wayne County Executive, Warren C. Evans was joined by community leaders that worked on this project to help improve the air quality in Southwest Detroit. Included in the community meeting held outdoors at the Corner of Visger and S. Electric, area residents heard from Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, Director, Wayne County Department of Health, Human and Veteran Affairs, Darren Riley, Co-Founder & CEO, Just Air Solutions, and Donele Wilkins, Founder & CEO, Green Door Initiative. Wayne County Executive Evans told the Telegram News, what is needed by the community at this time. "First of all, acknowledge what it is that we are doing and then monitor it. If the readings are high, let's talk about it. It takes community energy to get stuff done." He goes on to say, that he feels as though in order for it to work well, everyone needs to be engaged.

Residents should pay attention to the monitoring system and take the necessary steps to protect their loved-ones. "Beyond that, we want folks to share with others that so that the community as a collective can be in power. We need your voice out there. My hope is that things like asthma exacerbation and rates of lung and air quality related diseases start to drop because, people have the information that they can use. We can start using this data to hold accountable some of the biggest polluters, when they apply for permits. So that we aren't increasing their ability to pollute and ideally, we are decreasing it." said, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed.

Medical professionals, doctors specifically, can be an added bonus to have on any team when it comes to the Public Health. It is the knowledge that they gain by seeing patients who live in these areas that they are able to contribute. They are able to inform researchers on their finding, as patients experience problems due to their surroundings. Dr. Abdul El-Sayed understands, that the severity of poor air quality and the affects that come along with it. He wants residents of Southwest Detroit to go to or to download the JustAir app to sign up and receive real time text messages about poor air quality.

Overseeing data and the air pollution monitoring network, is a company named, JustAir. They have partnered with environmental justice groups, neighborhood associations and corporate partners to expand the air quality monitoring network across the city of Detroit. According to, the website states that they are dedicated to providing local air pollution monitoring solutions and bringing transparency into the disparities of air quality among communities. That's exactly what they've done so far, to aid in riding the severity of bad air quality in Southwest Detroit. CEO and Co-Founder of JustAir, Darren Riley, has a vested interest because, he has a hands-on experience from living in the community. After living in the area code of 48217 for some time, Darren Riley began to experience respiratory issues that never plagued him before. Now he knows first-hand, that bad air quality can lead to asthma and other diseases. He wants the community to know, that it is okay to push them and that with the help, they are able to continue building trust and rapport. JustAir believes in community feedback.

Community leader, longtime resident and activist, Theresa Landrum said, "There were environmental injustices that were happening in our communities, Southwest Detroit, Ecorse and River Rouge." Residents and others who were in attendance at this neighborhood event were engaged and captivated by the passion, dedication and commitment that she shared about being committed to the cause and working on air quality for the past 30 years. Theresa Landrum, has been lifting her voice boldly by taking a stance and not accepting the excuses that were given to area residents because, she has been tired and exhausted by the fact that for decades, nothing had been done in efforts to support the health of those living in the Tri-City area.

At the end of the day, the communities that have been affected for so long, now has a new resource and tool to aid in their health. The new air monitoring network has installed nearly 100 or more systems throughout Southwest Detroit and neighboring cities. Their hope is that other neighbors will take heed to the call. Then they too, can protect themselves and their families on high air pollutants and poor air quality days. Especially, residents who are older or those that may have respiratory health related issues and diseases. Residents can sign up for real-time air quality text alerts via the website or download the app, it is free.


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