Data gathered from a new air quality monitoring site in Seattle’s International District may help residents better understand the effects of air pollution from the I-5 freeway that runs through the neighborhood.
The Washington Department of Ecology recently placed an air quality monitoring site at 10th Avenue and S. Weller Street (right off of I-5). The site was specifically placed to monitor pollution from cars and trucks off of the I-5 freeway, and has a number of monitoring instruments which comply with EPA standards.
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency monitors air quality at these stationary sites and will be conducting a study in the International District from August to September. The agency is a special-purpose, regional government agency chartered by state law in 1967.
“It’s really a short-term study for us to test new technology in a slightly new, more mobile format,” said Tania Tam Park, Environmental Justice Coordinator with Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
The agency will be conducting a study of near-road pollution levels in the International District and Atlantic Neighborhood, centered on the monitoring site at 10th and Weller. A series of monitoring devices will measure how pollution levels change with the distance traveled from the stationary site and the road. The agency plans to use utility poles to mount their instruments, and will also drive around for some periods to gather additional information between the poles.
Specifically, the agency will be looking at pollutants that are chemical “fingerprints” of car and truck pollution. Two are gases: carbon monoxide (CO) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). And, the third is a type of fine particles, called black carbon. Special portable monitors will be placed at various locations.
This is the first time the agency will be using these specific types of monitoring instruments, so this is very much a pilot study where they will assess if these small (and cheaper) monitoring instruments work in an environment near heavy car and truck traffic, Park said.
The agency plans to share the results of the monitoring with community. The study could lead to additional air quality characterization in the area, community engagement, and possible identification of emissions and exposure reduction in the future.
“These potential future actions would need the input and support of local community members in order to be successful,” the agency said in a statement.