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Trace Level Monitoring - Ambient Calibration

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Thu, Nov 30, 2017 @ 11:56 AM

More and more, we are talking about trace level ambient monitoring.  This monitoring is in line with the measurement objectives of NCORE which is part of the Ambient Monitoring Technology Information Center of the US EPA.  According to the EPA website, "NCore is a multi pollutant network that integrates several advanced measurement systems for particles, pollutant gases and meteorology. Most NCore stations have been operating since the formal start of the network on January 1, 2011." The measurement standards, as set it 40 CFR Part 58 Appendix A, are:

NCore standards.jpg

It can be a challenge to reach these levels due to a handful of error sources. These were well outlined in a presentation by Avraham Teitz and Mustafa Mustafa of US EPA Region 2. This presentation can be viewed here.

As they described, using a system that allows total flow to be measured at the mass flow control and not the just system output is a great way to minimize error in your flow measurement. In slide 18 and 19, you can see a drawing of the Series 6100 layout which is plumbed to allow direct measurement.

6103 pid.jpg

 A second source of error is the zero air that is used. It is important to scrub the air of all moisture in addition to using charcoal, purafil and palladium scrubbers. Our ZAG provided all of these features, which are show on page 27 (and below). In addition, a hydrocarbon scrubber can be added for applications that need these to be removed. Proper ZAG maintenance (filters and media) is also important to keep the zero air as clean as possible.

7000 pid.jpgIn addition to these error sources, it is critical to have accurate and repeatable results from the calibrators and analyzers. For ozone and NO2, it is critical to have stable and linear readings for these very low ppb levels. For these measurements, the Series 6100 and 6103 both generate down to 2 ppb in a stable a repeatable manner. 

To learn more, check out the following sites: NCore, the referenced presentation, Ambient Monitoring Calibrators and Zero Air Generators.

Tags: Ambient Air calibration, EPA, NCore, News

In the News : New US Ozone Standard Takes Effect

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 @ 02:06 PM

epa_logo-resized-600.jpgOn October 1, 2017, a new ozone standard took effect in the US amid widely differing opinions. In late 2014, the EPA had proposed lowering the ozone standard to a between 65 to 70 from the current standard of 75 ppb (set in 2008 under the Bush administration). Public discussion was heated with many groups urging the EPA to maintain the existing standard. On October 1, 2015, under a court-ordered deadline, the EPA finalized the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) standard at 70 ppb.

This was not the end of the discussion however. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Association, who said that the rules would be a huge burden and that the cost to comply could be in the billions, filed for a review to challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  At the same time, five states filed a lawsuit challenging EPA's new 70 ppb ozone standard, with four additional states later joining them Earlier this year, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted EPA’s motion to indefinitely stay the lawsuit to give them the necessary time to review the data and the standard.

With all of this going on for the part 2 years, the EPA, now under the Trump administration, had initially sought to delay the rule. However, after lawsuits were filed by 16 state attorney generals, the EPA declined to delay the rule, which took effect on October 1, 2017. On July 20th, the House passed HR-806 by a vote of 229 to 199. Also known as the Ozone Standards Implementation Act, the bill would double the time frame under which the EPA reviews the ozone standard (from 5 yrs to 10 yrs) and also gives the EPA the ability to consider factors other than human health. This bill now sits in the Senate.

Why is this important?  Michael Greenhouse,co-author of a report issued by the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute spoke to Forbesabout the importance of these regulations, stating, “Our research shows that efforts to reduce ozone extend lifespans. While previous research had suggested this, the especially novel finding here is that pollution reductions lead to significant reductions in the purchase of medications that protect people from becoming sick or even dying prematurely … The implications for air pollution policy are potentially enormous.”

The new regulations have a large impact on the number of areas in the US that now are noncompliant. According to the EPA, 28 counties were classified as nonattainment areas under the 75 ppm standard and data sugegsts 241 counties violate the 70 ppb standard. 

US 8-Hour Ozone Nonattainment Areas at 70ppb
Projected 8-Hour Ozone Nonattainment Areas in U.S. under 70 ppb Standard

The democrats from House Department on Energy and Commerce share the dissenting views on the HR-806. The National Parks Conservation Association statement claimed, "This legislation would actually systematically weaken the Clean Air Act without a single improvement, undermine Americans’ 46-year right to healthy air based on medical science, and delay life-saving health standards already years overdue."


Clearly, there are strong and widely varying opinions on how best to proceed. It will be interesting to hear the Senate discussions if this comes up for debate.



Tags: Air Pollution, EPA, Emission Standards, USA Emissions, News

In the News : Hypoxia Training with the Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Tue, Aug 01, 2017 @ 11:24 AM

Several Air Force bases in the United States have recently unveiled their new Reduced Oxygen Breathing Devices (ROBD). The ROBD simulates altitude exposure and can be utilized for both research and training purposes. The U. S. Armed Forces use the ROBD 2 to train aircrew to recognize the signs and symptoms of hypoxia and to perform the appropriate emergency procedures. Congratulations to these sites on their new facilities!

Scott Air Force Base

"The ROBD will be used by Airmen assigned to 375th Air Mobility Wing, 932nd Airlift Wing, and 126th Air Refueling Wing who routinely fly at altitudes requiring supplemental oxygen."

(375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs; U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman Daniel Garcia)


Tags: Air Pollution, EPA, Emission Standards, USA Emissions

This Week in the News : Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Thu, Jun 29, 2017 @ 08:31 AM

This week, the US House of Representative's Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee discussed H.R. 806, known as the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017. HR 806 was introduced on February 1, 2017 by Pete Olson, the Representative for Texas's 22nd congressional district and cosponsored by Mr. Flores, Mr. Latta, Mr. Bishop of Georgia, Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Cuellar, Mr. Scalise, Mr. Costa, Mr. Cramer, Mr. Long, Mr. Jenkins of West Virginia, Mr. Burgess, Mr. Renacci, Mr. Hensarling, Mr. McKinley, Mr. Guthrie, Mr. Bucshon, Mr. Johnson of Ohio, Mr. Weber of Texas, and Mr. Babin. CT AT.jpg

According to the bill, the goal is "to facilitate efficient State implementation of ground-level ozone standards, and for other purposes." One of the key changes is in the timeline for review the guidelines for all criteria air pollutants of the national ambient air quality standards. Currently, the standard must be reviewed every 5 years. This bill aims to change this to every 10 years. Another change which reflects the overall theme heard from EPA Administroator Pruitt is within the "plan submissions and requirements for ozone non attainment areas" section. The phrase "and economic feasibility" is proposed to be added. This parallel's the new administration's statements that they want to remove the burden on businesses to meet regulation standards.

The Senate is considering a bill in parallel that states the same changes. This is S. 263: Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017, introduced by ShelleyMr. Flake, Mr. Manchin, Mrs. Fischer, Mr. Cornyn, and Mr. Inhofe. Also introduced on February 1, the bill was considered by Clean Air and Nuclear Safety on May 23rd.

To learn more about the health effects of ozone, check out the US EPA's ozone page or the Health Effects of Ozone published by the European Environment Agency. To follow these bills, you can request email alerts for either HR 806 or S263.


Tags: Air Pollution, EPA, Emission Standards, USA Emissions

This Week in the News : US EPA Budget Hearings

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 @ 09:14 AM

This week, the US House of Representative's Appropriations Subcommittee held hearings to discuss President Trump’s 2018 budget request for the EPA. Newly appointed EPA Administrator Scott Pruit testified before the subcommittee regarding the proposed 30% cut to the EPA budget and the impact this might have both in terms of funding for various projects as well as the workforce reduction. The hearing lasted about two hours, with Representatives from both parties asking Administrator Pruitt questions about the cut. The main focus was the impact such cuts would have on the local and regional air, water and land pollution protection/cleanup programs that exist within their districts.

What are your thoughts?

Tags: Air Pollution, EPA, Emission Standards, USA Emissions

US EPA Released Sixth Year of Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program Data

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Tue, Oct 04, 2016 @ 01:10 PM

Today, the US EPA released the 2015 data under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. The report details the sixth year of greenhouse gas pollution trends from large industrial sources.

Overall, reported emissions decreased by almost 5% percent from 2014, and 8.2 percent from 2011.  The more than 8,000 large sector facilities contribute about half of the total Greenhouse Gas emissions annually.


  • Power plants accounted for approximately 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, which accounts for 30 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas pollution in 2015. This is a declined of 6.2 percent as compared to 2014, and 11.3 percent since 2011. These ~1,500 plants are the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Second to power plants, petroleum and natural gas systems reported 231 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, down 1.6 percent from than 2014. Overall, however, this sector is actually up over 4% from the 2011 figures.
  • Most other sectors reported emissions reductions. The most significant declines were reported by the iron and steel sector and the production of fluorinated chemicals.  

The data can be used by businesses and communities to find opportunies to reduce pollution and wasted energy and to enjoy cost savings. The report can also be used to aid in the development of climate policies

To learn more, check out the GHG Emmissions page. You can also utilize the EPA's FLIGHT ( Facility Level Information on GreenHouse gases Tool), to "quickly and easily filter GHG data in a variety of ways, including by facility, industry, location, or gas." 


Tags: EPA, air quality, Air Pollution

Air Quality and the Paris Agreement

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Fri, Sep 09, 2016 @ 10:00 AM


As we end the summer, this year is expected to be the hottest on record for the second year in a row. Climate change is on the forefront of President Obama's mind in his final months in office. Last week, he delivered paperwork commiting the US to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gas pollution to about a quarter below the levels from 2005 by 2025. Likewise, China , the leading producer of greenhouse gas, has committed to a halt in emissions by 2030. A large part of this decrease has been attributed to the reduction in coal consumption.

The Paris agreement now has been signed by 55 countries, responsible for over 55% of the global pollution, and it is expected to take effect this November. It remains to be determined how the agreement will be implemented. Clinton is likely to follow the lead of President Obama. It is less likely that Trump would continue on this path since he has voiced his opinion that global warming is not real.

Once it takes effect, countries are expected to self-regulate. This would include reporting levels as well as actions and activities that are being conducted to meet the agreed upon levels. While the UN is unable to enforce commitment to the agreement, countries that fail to live up to the standards could leave themselves open to embargoes or other trade related sanctions. In the end, following through on the agreement is entirely voluntary.

With the Paris agreement in the news, air quality monitoring will continue to be a key issue going forward.


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Tags: ambient air calibrator, Air Pollution, USA Emissions, Emission Standards, European Union Emissions, EPA

EPA and CARB Crack Down on Clean Air Violation by Volkswagen

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Fri, Sep 18, 2015 @ 03:02 PM

The US EPA announced on Monday that a notice of violation, or NOV, of the Clean Air Act was issued to Volkswagen. The EPA states that the model years 2009-2015 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles (4-cylinder diesels) included software that allowed the cars to evade some emissions standards.

epa_logo-resized-600Cynthia Giles, the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, stated, “Working closely with the California Air Resources Board, EPA is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules. EPA will continue to investigate these very serious matters.”

The NOV explains that these vehicles had software that turns on "full emissions control" only during automotive emissions testing and not during everyday use. This allowed the cars to pass the test but to emit NOx (nitrogen oxides) at up to 40 times the permitted allowance. The EPA defines this as a "defeat device" as it was designed specifically to evade testing.

This follows a 1.1 million dollar fine that Volkswagen paid back in 2005 when they failed to report the defect oxygen sensor that affected 199-2001 vehicles. These vehicles produced "thousands of tons of harmful pollutants including nonmethane hydrocarbons (NMHC) and carbon monoxide (CO). NMHC are key reactants in the production of ozone, a major contributor to cancer-causing smog." (Volkswagen of America, Inc., Agrees to Pay More Than $1 Million for Clean Air Act Violation, Release Date: 06/15/2005)

To read the full NOV, check out the full post on the EPA site.

Tags: EPA

In the News - US EPA Presents Clean Power Plan

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 @ 12:09 PM

in the newsOn June 2, following an announcement by President Obama, the US EPA presented the Clean Power Plan, "a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plant" with the stated goal of maintaining "an affordable, reliable energy system" while reducing pollutants that are harmful to people as well as the environment."

Throughout the US, power plant emissions account for roughly one-third of greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, there are no national guidelines to limit carbon pollution levels, though the levels of other toxins, including arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particles, are restricted.  In the US, CO2 emissions account for 82% of all green house gas emisions, according to data reported by the EPA from 1990-2012.

us epaAlthough the mandate is set at the federal level, the guidelines give states the ability to establish their own internal goals and to design a program based on their specific needs and capabilities.  These plans must be submitted to the EPA by June 2016. Each state's plan must have enforceable limits, and must include how the levels will be reported and monitored.  There must also be a method for corrective actions for those who fall short. The EPA will require biannual reporting of the state's progress.

Once the plan is accepted, states have to reach interim goals by 2020 and have until 2030 to meet the final goal of a 30% decrease in carbon emissions from the levels reported in 2005. To put that in perspective, that is equal to the emissions from powering 65 million homes, roughly half of the homes in America.

In addition to the 30% reduction in carbon emissions, the Clean Power Plan will also result in the reduction of particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent.  Consumers should also benefit from a roughly 8 percent decrease in their electric bills due to increased energy efficiency and reduced demand in the electricity system.



To read the plan or to learn more, visit the US EPA's Clean Power Plan site.  Public Hearings are to be held during the last week of July. (links removed after hearing date passed)

Share your thoughts on the new plan below.

Tags: Emission Standards, USA Emissions, EPA, Air Pollution, air quality

News - EPA releases a series of PSAs on Climate Change

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Mon, Sep 16, 2013 @ 10:56 AM

The Environmental Protection Agency of the United States (US EPA) recently released a series of 30 sec US EPA ambient and 1 minute public service videos on climate change. The videos discuss small changes people can make to their daily lives that have an impact on emissions. Citizens are encouraged to reduce the amount of energy they use to both cut their own utility costs and protect their health.  The cumultive effect of these small changes to the economy and environment are stressed. The series was developed in support of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, released in June.  In his plan, the President stressed the importance of reducing carbon pollution while simultaneously prepareing for the impacts of changes to the climate.

What do you think?  Do you give thought to how your actions may impact the climate?  What things do you do at work and home to minimize your carbon "footprint."

You can watch the videos here:

Tags: Emission Standards, USA Emissions, ozone, Ambient Air calibration, EPA, Air Pollution, air quality