Laboratory and Environmental Assessment
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Air Quality Monitoring
The Oregon DEQ is a regulatory agency whose job is to protect and enhance the quality of Oregon's Environment. In support of that job, the Air Quality Monitoring Section of the DEQ’s Laboratory Division is responsible for providing accurate scientific data concerning the State of Oregon’s air quality to ensure that the state meets the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) as required by the Federal Clean Air Act.
DEQ measures air pollutant levels by operating a network of monitoring and sampling equipment at sites throughout the State of Oregon. These sites are operated and maintained by DEQ air monitoring technicians with the goal of collecting complete and accurate air quality data. The equipment at an air monitoring station can vary from a complex array of continuous air monitors that operate 24 hours a day year-round to a single sampler with a filter that captures particulates once a week. Much of the data collected from the air monitoring network is submitted to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) data base for use in determining air pollution trends and air quality compliance of the NAAQS standards.
DEQ monitors for Federal Clean Air Act pollutants including Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Ozone (O3), Total Suspended Particulate (TSP), Fine Particulate (PM10 and PM 2.5)*, and Lead (Pb). Other pollutants or compounds are measured as part of Air Toxics or particulate speciation sampling.
The department also provides monitoring and technical assistance in support of the following AQ monitoring projects and studies:
Field Burning Network - grass field burning in the Willamette Valley in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Burning in the Grande Ronde Valley.
Visibility Network - located in federally designated wilderness areas and National Parks.
Forest Health Network - areas in SW and NE Oregon impacted by smoke from federal lands. Operated in cooperation with the US Forest Service and the BLM
Local wood stove advisory and pollution prevention programs
An area of increasing interest is the monitoring of Air Toxics or HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants). The department also assists neighboring states on air quality issues and performs special AQ studies in cooperation with the EPA.
*Fine particulate air pollution consists of solid particles or liquid droplets that are less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10) or less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5). Particles in these size ranges are of great concern because they can be inhaled deeply into the lungs where they can remain for years. The health effects of particulate matter vary with the size, concentration, and chemical composition of the particles.
1. These meteorological sensors record wind speed and wind direction data. This data is collected electronically using strip chart recorders and a datalogger located inside the air monitoring station. Most of the samplers and monitors located at this station give continuous information that is available electronically through the agency’s data acquisition system (DAS).
2. & 3. These are upper and lower temperature sensors. The difference between the upper and lower temperature readings helps determine the stability of the air near the ground. A large temperature difference indicates an air inversion in the area. An air inversion can trap pollutants near the ground that can be harmful to public health. Barometric pressure is also recorded at this station. Meteorology is important in determining weather conditions in an area. Weather can influence pollution levels.
4. A probe is connected to a fine particulate (visibility) monitor called a nephelometer located inside the air monitoring station. A pump pulls ambient air through the probe and into the nephelometer which can detect particulates like smoke or dust. During the winter months wood stove smoke can contribute significantly to the amount of particulate in the air. In the summer, barrel burning, open burning, slash burning, forest fires, and field burning contribute to the amount of particulate that impacts an area.
5. These are PM10 and PM2.5 fine particulate samplers. Air is drawn through inlets located on the top of the samplers onto filters. The inlets are designed to limit the size of the particulate reaching the filters. The filters go to the DEQ Laboratory where they are weighed for mass, and/or analyzed for other compounds, including carbon and metals. Air Monitoring Technician records sample information, exchanges filters, and reprograms the sampler for the next sample date. All of the instruments are reviewed, operated, maintained and calibrated by DEQ staff.
For more information about DEQ's Laboratory and Environmental Assessment Division please email LEAD.