Robot in the Dunsmuir pool is a wildfire smoke monitor

Cassandra Tiersma
The Environ Beta Attenuation Monitor known as E-Bam standing in the empty Dunsmuir Community Pool, where it is monitoring wildfire smoke.

A mechanical stick figure like something out of a science fiction B-movie has been seen standing in the empty Dunsmuir Community Pool. Other than a lazy rotating flick of its “wrist,” the creature does not exhibit any other movement. Upon further investigation, this foreign resident has been identified as “E-Bam.”

Contrary to speculation by observant Dunsmuir residents, E-Bam is not performing the world’s slowest pool floor cleaning act, nor is it the product of a Dunsmuir school science project. When questioned about “the robot in the Dunsmuir Pool,” Recreation & Parks District Administrator Mike Rodriguez only commented that the robot is “a smoke-monitoring device that was put there by the County.” Rodriguez said the County chose that specific location because “they needed an open area” from which to measure the wildfire smoke in Dunsmuir.

Eric Olson, Air Pollution Specialist at the Siskiyou County Air Pollution Control District, said the approximately $15,000 piece of equipment that resembles a humanoid robot is actually an Environ Beta Attenuation Monitor, aka E-Bam. He said it is used “primarily for monitoring wildfire smoke,” and is one of three such mobile monitoring devices the District has had since about 2008.

“The District acquired the E-Bams via a 2007 Homeland Security Grant procured by the Deputy Director of Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services (OES),” said Olson. “Siskiyou County OES is technically the owner of those three E-Bams. Supplied and deployed by the California Air Resources Board, it monitors Fine Particulate Matter” (PM 2.5) and “is very accurate.”

Olson said, “There are currently eight other E-Bams operating in the County besides the one in Dunsmuir.” The others are deployed in Happy Camp, Hornbrook, Macdoel, Tulelake, Ft. Jones, McCloud, Weed Elementary School, and Mt. Shasta Fire Department.

Another smaller air quality monitoring device located at Dunsmuir Elementary School is “about the size of a coffee cup” and was provided to the District by the California Air Resources Board, according to Olson. It was provided “to employ where appropriate,” which Olson said means an appropriate location with the electrical power and wi-fi signal necessary to operate its Purple Air sensor.

Purple Air sensors, he said, were provided to the District by the ARB “for deployment at schools and smoke impacted communities.” He said they’re good for the schools, because they can make educated decisions regarding air quality safety for recesses, sports practices, and other outdoor activities.

“The ARB provided the District a total of 30 PurpleAir sensors,” Olson said. Fifteen of them are operational and in use in Siskiyou County in Happy Camp, Dorris, Tulelake, Yreka, Ft. Jones, Etna, Grenada, Big Springs, Edgewood, Gazelle, Weed, Mt. Shasta and McCloud. Five other schools are scheduled to receive a Purple Air Sensor.

Olson said air quality data from any Purple Air Sensor can be accessed by going to either of the following interactive websites: or

Olson, who has lived in Siskiyou County since 2000, said this year has seen “the longest duration of smoke impact in the past eighteen years in Siskiyou County.”

For Siskiyou County residents who are concerned about reducing wildfire smoke air pollution in their homes, Olson recommends a DIY resource for ‘How to Build an Inexpensive Room Air Filter” that is posted on the Mariposa County Health Department’s website, which can be accessed online at: