Farmers and Local Residents Collaborate : Application of a Participatory Citizen Science Approach to Characterising Air Quality in a Rural Area in The Netherlands

Woutersen, Amber; Ruiter, Henri de; Wesseling, Joost; Hendricx, Wouter; Blokhuis, Christa; Ratingen, Sjoerd van; Vegt, Kirsten; Voogt, Marita


In rural areas, livestock farming is a source of environmental concern. We describe a citizen science (CS) project in Venray, the Netherlands, where air quality was measured at livestock farms and surrounding residential premises. We used low-cost methods to measure air quality components and facilitated a dialogue between stakeholders about the results and solutions for cleaner air. PM2.5 and PM10 were measured using Nova Fitness SDS011 sensors, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ammonia (NH3) using Palmes tubes and odour annoyance was reported. Particulate Matter (PM) concentrations were higher close to layer farms, but elevated concentrations were limited at other farms and residential locations. NO2 concentrations were elevated near busy roads, and higher NH3 values were measured near livestock farms. Reporting of odour annoyance was limited, yet during the dialogue residents indicated that this was their largest concern. While both farmers and residents agreed with the general conclusions, they still preferred opposing measures. We conclude that characterisation of air quality using low-cost methods is possible, but expert guidance is needed. Moreover, education, commitment of participants and involvement of independent parties are crucial to ensuring a productive dialogue between stakeholders. The insights gained by participants and resulting dialogue were the greatest benefits of this CS approach.