May 2020
Pittsburgh Has a Particle Pollution Problem
The air quality in Pittsburgh is among the worst in the country, but you can protect the air you breathe in your home. ROCIS presents the following overview of particle pollution and what you can do about it indoors. First, a recap of the problem:

What is particle pollution?
  • Particles are a major category of air pollution found outdoors and indoors, resulting from many different processes including burning fuel and atmospheric chemical reactions. The chemical makeup of particle pollution varies, and the particles can bind to other kinds of air pollutants.

Why does particle pollution matter?
Particle Pollution Solutions

There are many solutions that can minimize indoor particles, at a range of associated costs.Some solutions only require a change in habits. Other solutions require investing in a new appliance or hiring a professional.

Filter your Indoor Air Using a Homemade Filter Fan
  • Consider using a DIY filter fan made from a furnace filter taped to a box fan. These homemade air filtration devices can be very effective and cost a fraction of portable air cleaners. Instructions for making a DIY filter fan are available here.

Consider indoor and outdoor air quality when opening windows

Purchase a portable air cleaner
  • Invest in a correctly-sized portable air cleaner with a HEPA filter, and run it continuously. Read the EPA's guide to air cleaners in the home here

Complete an air handler intervention

Purchase a range hood
Skeptical about whether these solutions can actually make a difference?

View Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and findings from previous ROCIS cohorts.
ROCIS Low Cost Monitoring Project (LCMP)
Virtual Cohorts

Participants in the new ROCIS virtual cohorts receive a monitoring kit on their doorstep or via mail. The kit includes monitors for particles, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and radon. During the one-month-long cohort, participants monitor their indoor and outdoor air, and receive weekly feedback on their results. Each week, they attend two weekly online ROCIS meetings, with the option of attending in the morning or evening. As usual, all household members are welcome to participate! During the monitoring period, ROCIS participants can test the effectiveness of ROCIS-loaned equipment, including portable air cleaners and DIY filter fans.

Virtual Cohort Testimonial

ROCIS participant Allison on her experience in the first virtual ROCIS cohort:

“Having the cohort presented virtually enabled us to participate, when ordinarily we could not have done so. Now we will be taking steps to address areas in need of change such as our outdoor coal and wood burner and using the filter fan system.”
Those interested in participating in a ROCIS virtual cohort should complete a Participant Interest Survey and contact Linda Wigington at lwigington1@outlook.com
Thanks to The Heinz Endowments for support of the ROCIS initiative. 
(Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces)