Michigan company wants to improve air quality in Grand Rapids


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Your zip code can determine your air quality, and Grand Rapids is now undergoing a pilot program to find out more.

JustAir has set up several reporting stations throughout the city to collect data. They want to know the reasons why one neighborhood may differ from another.

“I grew up [with] no problems, asthma, no COPD problems, very healthy lungs; I played basketball for years at Carnegie Mellon University; no problem,” said JustAir CEO and Founder Darren Riley.

Riley was surprised by the health of the lungs given that his father suffered from asthma.

“My dad actually grew up in Queens, New York, in the projects where there was a lot of smog in the ’80s,” Riley told FOX 17.

After moving to southwest Detroit, he says he began to see issues like his father.

“One of the most polluted ZIP codes in the United States, and I developed asthma three years ago,” Riley added.

Riley’s mission now is to make sure people don’t go through what he went through.

“So JustAir is a neighborhood air quality-surveillance solution,” he said.

Their co-founder Jim Meeks is from Grand Rapids. Riley says his connections and the city’s forward thinking about improving its air enabled them to install these monitoring stations.

So if you see boxes attached to poles in downtown Grand Rapids, know that they are monitoring the quality of the air you breathe.

“We have 11 monitors in Grand Rapids and fiber downtown, and we have five that we’re going to integrate into the dashboard that are in the Grandville Roosevelt Park neighborhood.

According to the CDC, poor air quality can cause a wide range of health problems, including decreased lung function, increased hospital visits for asthma, and increased premature death.

Riley hopes this data can have an impact on change.

“Look at politics, environmental change and behavior change so that we can protect as individuals and hopefully move in the right direction,” Riley said.

Riley says there are conversations to include those stations in Chicago and Detroit. He hopes all this data can help people plan their day like you would the weather.

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