EPA Citizen Science Initiatives

GLOBE PROGRAMME

The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Programme is an international science and education programme that provides school students with the opportunity to participate in data collection and to contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the earth system and global environment.

GLOBE was re-launched in Ireland in 2017 and this two-year pilot programme is managed by An Taisce in partnership with the EPA.  Participating schools learn about air quality and the weather by making scientific measurements and using their data to carry out research.

Further details of GLOBE in Ireland are available from An Taisce and this video summarizes the programme.  The GLOBE Learning Expedition was held in Killarney, Co. Kerry in 2018.  Watch this short video to find out more.

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Joint EPA/European Environment Agency Air Quality Project

Beginning in 2019 a joint European citizen science project will be carried out between many of the European EPA's and the European Environment Agency (EEA).  This project will focus on the measurement of nitrogen dioxide concentrations in the air resulting from car use.  More information will be available here as this project is developed.

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National Biodiversity Data Centre

The EPA is working in partnership with the National Biodiversity Data Centre to run a collaborative citizen science project aimed at obtaining citizen science observations on the water environment.  More information will be available here as this project progresses.

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NUI Galway / EPA Air Quality Study (2017)

This project engaged transition year students from four schools in Dublin and Galway to monitor air quality in their environment, in collaboration with the EPA Air Quality Programme and the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies (NUIG).  The pilot study included the provision of a system of sensors to measure particulate matter, ozone, temperature and relative humidity.  These sensors were calibrated and characterized for use by NUIG; data collated and imported to a website by the students; and then evaluated with the support of a facilitator from NUIG.  The study enabled the students to learn more about air quality both in their locality and nationally.

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Radon in Homes

The EPA has recently carried out surveys in which over 1,400 homes have been tested for radon.  At the same time as testing their homes for radon, homeowners provided data relating to the house type, age and insulation.  This data will be used to help us better understand the behaviour of radon in different types and ages of homes.  This means that we will be able to improve the advice we can give to homeowners about protecting themselves from this radioactive gas.  More information will be available here once this research, which is being carried out in collaboration with University College Dublin, is complete.

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RECONNECT

Reconnect is an EPA funded research project carried out by University College Dublin.  The aim of the project is to assess the extent and impact of flow barriers or obstacles on freshwater biology, hydromorphology and connectivity in Ireland.

Citizen scientists use an app to take a photograph of the obstacle and note some details, the location of the obstacle is then mapped via the GPS facility in the smartphone (a link to the River Obstacles App can be found here).

The information collected will be used to help build a georeferenced data layer of river obstacles in Ireland and will have many uses into the future.  Ultimately, the data collected will be used to map barriers for their modification or where appropriate, their removal.

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REPORTING LITTERING AND DUMPING

You can help to keep your local environment clean by using the EPA's "See It Say It"  App to report littering and illegal dumping.  The information is communicated via fixmystreet.ie to the relevant local authority to address the incident reported.  The app works in conjunction with the National Environmental Complaints Line (1850 365 121).

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SAFECAST PROJECT

The EPA has participated in an international citizen science project to map ambient radioactivity levels: Safecast.  This project evolved in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in 2011.  Citizen scientists purchase and build a GPS enabled radiation monitor that can be used by anyone.  This monitor is relatively inexpensive, easy to build and its performance has been tested in the EPA radiation calibration facility.  This testing showed that the monitor is both reliable and accurate.  The monitor allows users to take radiation measurements and GPS co-ordinates and the data is then openly shared on the Safecast website.  The EPA used this monitor to map external radiation levels throughout Ireland.  All measurements show normal background levels of radiation at all locations.

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