About the project

Federally mandated air quality monitoring efforts have driven significant improvements in US air quality over the last 50 years. However, today the EPA is rolling back regulations. Expanded grassroots efforts in air monitoring are necessary to achieve an equitable distribution of clean air in the United States.

States can increase their protection beyond the Clean Air Act as long as they have evidence of necessity for higher standards. However, expensive and sparse EPA monitoring is insufficient to monitor pollution in areas that are most affected by it. We designed a public science project, Spidey Senser, to help fill this gap in data and connect people who demand that their communities have clean air.

Spidey Senser is a network of neighborhood air quality monitors using tools people already have available: spider webs! Metals in the air settle as dust and drift onto webs. People collect webs and send them to our lab where we identify the type and amount of metals in the sample. With spiders as bioindicators, we detect differences in air quality from neighborhood to neighborhood. Community-controlled monitoring needs to be amplified to set air quality standards that center the most oppressed people.