New project to develop Web tool for analyzing air quality in Ohio River Valley
Internet database could help states make scientifically sound decisions on regulating microscopic PM2.5 particles
A PM2.5 air sampling station at DOE's Laboratory near Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh, PA - For more than three years, the
U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy
Technology Laboratory has been tracking the
flight of unseen airborne particles across the
Upper Ohio River Valley.
By analyzing the "fingerprints" of these tiny
specks - they are so small that 30 of them barely
equal the width of a human hair - researchers
are gaining a much better understanding of the
airborne concentrations of these particles,
where they originate, how they are formed, and
most importantly, how best to control them.
Now, a new project selected
by the Laboratory will compile the massive
amounts of data collected from half a dozen
DOE-funded regional air sampling stations into an
Internet web-based tool that both researchers and
regulators can use to improve their understanding
of air quality in the region.
Advanced Technology Systems, Inc., of Pittsburgh,
PA, has won an Energy Department competition to
develop the comprehensive, computer based
Ambient air quality data collected from several ongoing projects in
West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio will be entered into a common
database. A publicly-available, user-friendly, web-based tool then will
be created to access, display, analyze and interpret the data.
The $1.92 million project - DOE's share is $1.5 million - will take three
years to develop for full public access, but early prototypes of the web
tool should become available to environmental professionals within the
next couple of years.
The goal is to have a tool that State environmental agencies and others
can use to study ambient air quality data not only from their area but
also by comparing it to air quality data from surrounding areas. The
database underlying the planned analytical tool will be structured to
facilitate its integration with the nationwide relational database of air
quality now being developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection
States are currently under pressure to develop implementation plans to
comply with standards for these tiny particulates, called PM 2.5. In
many cases, these standards will not only require reducing emissions
of solid particles but also the sulfur and nitrogen oxide gases that can
react chemically in the atmosphere to form the particles. PM 2.5
particles have been linked statistically to respiratory and
The Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.