Academics, citizens, industry and government collaborate for first-ever community air monitoring fair

| Press Releases

What: Concerned Citizens of New Sarpy and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade are organizing the first-of-its-kind Environmental Monitoring Exhibition and Fair, focusing on techniques for air quality monitoring. The fair will be held in New Sarpy, Louisiana, in a community that sits only steps away from an oil refinery. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Environmental Policy Group in partnership with the national Refinery Reform Campaign (RRC) received a pilot grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to explore state of the art and community friendly air monitoring technologies.  

The joint project is taking its technical expertise to the heart of the petrochemical industry to demonstrate monitoring technology to community members who live adjacent to oil refineries, chemical plants, and grain elevators. Hands-on exhibits will feature state-of-the-art monitors for air toxics and particulate matter that citizens can use to determine the levels of pollutants in their air. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will have an exhibit to explain what government and industry are doing to monitor air quality in Louisiana. Tulane Environmental Law Clinic will educate citizens about the legal requirements for monitoring. Industry representatives will have the opportunity to explain their monitoring techniques and practices to community members. Representatives from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality will also be in attendance.

Why: Air quality monitoring provides information that is essential to determining how emissions from industrial facilities are affecting nearby communities.  Community members often complain of fumes, grain dust and petroleum coke dust that falls on their homes and yards from neighboring industry. The Monitoring Fair will bring together citizens, environmental groups, regulators, and industry to focus on the ways that available monitoring techniques could improve our knowledge of the petrochemical industry’s effects on human health and the environment.

When: Saturday, October 19, 2002, 12 - 4 PM

Where: New Sarpy Park, 9th and East Terrace Streets, New Sarpy, LA (30 miles northwest of New Orleans; 15 miles north of the New Orleans International Airport) 

Event Sponsors: 

Concerned Citizens of New Sarpy, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Refinery Reform Campaign – project of the Texas SEED Coalition, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Xavier University, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Louisiana Labor-Neighbor Project, Sierra Club New Orleans Group, Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.

Photo Opportunities:    Community members in action trying out high-tech toxics and particulate monitors - experts from MIT, EPA, DEQ and Industry interacting with community members in air monitoring exercises.  Air pollution data being generated on the spot!

CRITERIA FOR MONITORING TOOLS: equipment that community members could use in an effort to collect relevant, reliable and accurate air quality data.


1.  ppbRAE:  
VOC monitor.  This is a handheld monitor that has true ppb (parts per billion) detection of total Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).  It uses photoionization technology and is unmatched in the industry when it comes to sensitivity.  The detector in the instrument lacks the capability to speciate VOCs - meaning it cannot specifically determine the amount of benzene or toluene at ambient conditions.  The reading is simply total VOCs.  The reading is instantaneous and displayed on the LCD of the instrument.  Up to 32,000 data points are stored (that is a lot) in the instrument, and can be easily downloaded to a PC. There is an outlet on the side of the ppbRAE that can be attached to a tedlar bag - and the gas pumped into the instrument can be directed into the tedlar bag for subsequent analysis.  

2.  DustPro by Casella: 
Particulate monitor.  This instrument can be used to make surveying measurements (locate 'hot spots'), or used in its environmental enclosure to take measurements over a longer period of time.  In the environmental enclosure, the equipment is meant for stationary monitoring, but is nonetheless mobile. The instrument runs on rechargeable batteries, as does the pump for the environmental enclosure.  The concentration is a direct read on the LCD - there is also a real-time graphic interface for the equipment. Sampling time and data logging are completely adjustable by the user.  The data is easily downloaded to a PC, or stored as a 'run' on the instrument 

3. PAS 2000CE: 
The PAS 2000CE detects particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on ultrafine particulate matter in real-time via photoelectric charging.  The PAS 2000CE is attractive because it has a rechargeable battery, is rugged, small, and is lightweight (3 lbs).  This instrument has proven successful in different situations including, but not limited to, air quality testing in China and Mexico City.  The PAS 2000CE can be used both indoors and outdoors.  Up to 8,000 data points can be collected at the site and subsequently downloaded to a PC with user-friendly graphical software.  There is an instant reading on the display of the instrument as well.  

4.  SXC-20 VOC Monitor:
The SXC-20 VOC monitor is capable of detecting over 100 VOCs using a semi-conductor detector with rapid response.  It also has the capability of dual sampling via standard charcoal, adsorber and colorimetric tube sampling.  A laboratory analysis of the adsorbing tube can provide valuable speciation of VOCs detected.  The sensitivity of the instrument is typically 3-5 ppm.  Although it lacks sensitivity, it has a simple output of data that can be easily interpreted and understood.  The built-in data-logger is capable of collecting up to 8 hrs of data.  The data are plotted via software that comes standard with the equipment.  The instrument weighs less than 2 lbs, is small (4.2in x 4.6in x 2.4in) and comes with a rechargeable battery.

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