In 2015 HARC completed a project that identified the primary sources of fine particulate matter or PM2.5 pollutants in Harris County as well as the control measures that can be used to reduce them. Each control measure has a unique efficiency and cost.
Measuring Pollutants in Neighborhoods near Petrochemical Facilities
HARC is working to help local communities improve air quality and quality of life. HARC is partnering with the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) to train community members living near petrochemical facilities to take measurements of air toxics using monitoring tools that are typically used by environmental regulatory enforcement agencies.
The project is lead by Alex Cuclis, Research Scientist in Air Emissions and Monitoring. Community members are being trained to use tools such as handheld photoionization detectors (PIDs) which have detection limits of about 3 parts per billion (ppb); Summa Canisters, which can be sent off for a standard air quality analysis known as TO-15 to provide accurate concentrations of specific volatile organic compounds, like benzene and toluene; and particulate matter (PM) 2.5 monitors that are approved by EPA as a Federal Reference Method (FRM).
Each of these tools brings an added level of sophistication and improved accuracy to community air toxics monitoring efforts. HARC’s participation in this project will help to ensure success by making sure that the testing is performed with the appropriate quality assurance and quality controls in place as well as all of the necessary documentation.
HARC deployed a mobile laboratory equipped with a Geographical Positioning System (GPS) and a Proton Transfer Reaction-Mass Spectrometer (PTR-MS) to perform real time measurements of ambient concentrations of toxic volatile organic compounds in the vicinity of oil and gas sites located on a large private property in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas.