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RAMAMOHANA REDDY APPANNAGARI — Environmental pollution research monitoring and management

Environmental pollution continues to be a major issue of concern for both developed and under-developed countries.

However, in order to protect our natural environment and, in particular, to preserve the ability of the environment to adequately support human life, the need for ongoing research and monitoring of known and potential environmental pollutants is ever so important. Notably, the research directed toward the assessment of the impact of human activities on the environment is fundamental for developing acceptable processes that are necessary for achieving a true environmental sustainability.

Among these are processes and activities that are devoted to the characterization and monitoring of the quality of the environment in its various forms, as well as for better identification of possible risks of harmful effect on human health and the environment. The contributions in this issue will focus on research devoted to gaining a better understanding of the extent of distribution, ecological effects, risks and monitoring of air, water and soil pollution. Air quality management requires an understanding of the type of air pollutants being emitted by various sources from on road vehicles, large industrial facilities, power plants and smaller sources such as residential heating and asphalt paving. The development of emissions inventories is critical for the states to implement accurate and effective air pollution control strategies.

Complete, well-referenced and quality-assured emissions profiles of air pollution sources support models used by states to demonstrate compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and are used to populate emissions databases.

Database support

Researchers work to update and maintain database, including the addition of high-priority emission profiles used in many of atmospheric models and the repository of volatile organic gas and particulate matter speciation profiles of air pollution sources. In addition to populating and maintaining the database itself, researchers are providing and maintaining the web browser to assist users that do not have database proficiency but need information on the components of the emission profiles. Research is currently focused on oil and natural gas profiles as well as profiles from wild and prescribed fires.

On-road and off-road emissions inventories 

Research is providing a better understanding of air pollution emissions from light duty trucks and other on road vehicles and off-road vehicles. Using dynamometers in the laboratory, emissions are characterized under different operating conditions and combustion technologies, outdoor temperatures and fuel mixtures that are currently in use or proposed. Vehicles are also taken on the road for emissions testings. Researchers are investigating mobile measurement instruments to obtain real-world emissions of vehicles during operation.

Analytical-chemical and optical methods

Research is needed to develop and apply sampling, analytical-chemical, and optical methods that accurately and precisely measure the inorganic and carbonaceous components of gases and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from a variety of emissions sources and ambient locations. Examination of particle phase black carbon (BC), organic nitrogen compounds, polycyclic and oxygenated aromatic compounds, nitrogen-containing polycyclic aromatic compounds, metals, atom and chemical bond valence states, particle size and other physiochemical attributes of emissions are being investigated. Data from this research is used by thousands of scientists worldwide and supports a variety of toxicology research activities that require analytical chemical methodology for air pollutant determination.

Carbon characterization

Researchers are characterizing the optical properties of particulate and black carbon emissions from combustion sources. The physical, chemical and optical characterization of these aerosols will be used to develop a black carbon emissions inventory for National Emissions Inventory.

The data is important for the development of climate models. The light absorbing nature of these aerosols and their limited lifetime in the atmosphere give them the potential to act as short-term climate forcers.

Demonstration of optical properties, such as light scattering and absorption and refractive capabilities, will provide critical information for determining black carbon’s role in global warming. The research will also provide particulate and black carbon data for the database.

Conclusion

Pollution monitoring is of great importance to environmental protection.

A very effective and promising approach to reduce air pollution is by transitioning toward renewable energy. According to a study published in the Energy and Environmental Science in 2015, switching toward 100% renewable energy in the United States would eliminate about 62,000 premature mortality per year in 2050, if no biomass were used, saving about $600 billion in health costs incurred in a year.

On a larger scale, the governments of the various nation-states are taking measures to limit the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This research will improve the ability to collect data on air pollutants needed by decision-makers and states to support National Ambient Air Quality Standards. It will also help determine what types of sensors work best, and how they can be used in indoor and outdoor environments and on vehicles.

Study results will provide information about how these new mobile sensors perform in comparison to reference instruments on mobile platforms and at stationary sites. Sensors will also enable individuals and communities to increase their awareness of air quality issues. The ultimate goal of this research is to address the substantial technical challenges of developing high quality to protect public health.

Dr. Ramamohana Reddy Appannagari works for the CHEMTEX Environmental & Industrial Hygiene Laboratory in Port Arthur.