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Date of Report: March 19, 2002
EPA Grant Number: R828583
Title: Providing Timely Public Access to Daily Air Quality Information about Birmingham, AL and Its Regional Environment
Institutions: Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH)
Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM)
University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH)
MCNC-Environmental Modeling Center (MCNC)
Investigators: JCDH -- Samuel Bell, Randy Dillard
ADEM -- Christopher Howard, Lee Bacon
UAH -- Noor Gillani, Benjie Norris, Arastoo Biazar
MCNC -- John McHenry, Carlie Coats, Jeff Vukovich

Objectives of the Project:

The broad objective of this Project is to develop and implement an improved, sustainable and transferrable program of (a) monitoring local air quality and (b) providing timely and effective public access to useful information about air quality and related meteorology for metro Birmingham and its regional environment (southeastern and eastern USA). The air quality monitoring and public outreach activities and focus are to be expanded in several major ways, each constituting a significant innovation in the way local agencies and communities encounter air quality. Our specific objectives and approach are outlined below in the form of specific Project Tasks:
Task 1. Continue the present program of air quality monitoring and public access;
Task 2. Expand the continuous monitoring program for PM2.5, particularly to explore urban-regional exchanges;
Task 3. Extend program focus from mainly ozone to ozone and PM2.5;
Task 4. Extend program focus from local only to local and regional;
Task 5. Extend forecast modeling capability for meteorology and chemistry, utilizing both upgraded statistical modeling and state-of-the-art real-time 3D Eulerian grid modeling for ozone;
Task 6. Extend timely and effective public outreach via internet, the news media, and other means;
Task 7. Provide for local program sustainability and national program transferrability.

Progress/Accomplishments Report (by Task):
Year 1 activities have been mostly of a developmental nature. The focus in Year 2 will shift more to completing the development of the program, to testing its performance, improving it, and documenting/institutionalizing the process for sustainability and national transferability. This section is a brief task-by-task summary of the items noted above, documentation of what was accomplished in Year 1.

Task 1: Continuation of pre-existing program.
The pre-existing program of air quality (AQ) management for the Birmingham Ozone Non-attainment Area (BONA) of Jefferson and Shelby Counties (see Fig. 1), consisting of the following, was continued during 2001:
- Continuous AQ monitoring -- ozone (9 sites), CO (2 sites), SO2 and NOx (1 site), PM2.5 (1 site);
- 24-hour average sampling and analysis of PM2.5 -- every day (2 sites) and every three days (6 sites);
- Daily ozone forecasting based on statistical modeling using local input variables only;
- Public outreach involving local educational programs and sharing daily ozone forecasts with selected

Task 2: Expansion of the local continuous monitoring program
Six new continuous monitors of PM2.5 were purchased (four with EMPACT funds), tested and installed during the first half of the year, and were in operation from about August 1. Four of them were installed at rural sites in the periphery of the BONA (Pinson, Corner, Providence and McAdory) to capture information about regional inflow/outflow of PM2.5 relative to the urban area; the other two were installed at urban-suburban sites (Wylam and Hoover), and complement the one already in existence at the N. Birmingham site. Each of these seven sites now has a Ruprecht & Patashnik Model 1400ab Continuous Particle Analyzer or a TEOM (Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance) to monitor the particle concentrations, as well as a new ESC Data Logger to transmit the data to the central computer seven times a day (to be increased to hourly in 2002). The central computer subsequently sends the data to the main EMPACT web site at UAH at the end of each polling session. Ozone is also monitored continuously at each of the seven continuous PM2.5 sites. A new ozone monitoring site was also added in 2001 at a rural peripheral site in Leeds (Jefferson CO). In addition, a new continuous SO2 monitor was installed at one of the ozone monitoring sites (Fairfield).

Task 3: Extension of program focus from ozone only to ozone and PM2.5
With the installation of the PM2.5 continuous monitors at seven of the eleven monitoring sites, in addition to monitoring of ozone at ten sites (all except Wylam), program focus has now definitely been expanded from ozone only to ozone and PM2.5. The PM2.5 program also includes 24-hour-average filter sampling at eight sites (daily at two sites and every three days at six sites), seven of them co-located with the continuous PM sites (the eighth one at Helena). These samples are routinely analyzed for chemical composition.

Task 4: Extension of program focus from local only to local and regional
A major new innovation of the Birmingham AQ management program has been the expansion of its focus from local only to local + regional. We have done this in terms of both observational information and modeling information. Observationally, two new elements have been added: (a) the continuous monitoring of both ozone and PM2.5 not only at urban-suburban sites but also at a number of rural sites in the periphery of the BONA (this provides specific information to track regional inflows/outflows of these two secondary pollutants relative to metro Birmingham, and to distinguish regional impacts locally from local contributions) and (b) daily tracking of regional (Eastern USA) midday ozone distribution (AIRNOW contour maps) for the past four days, providing a dynamical perspective also of regional ozone pollution. In addition, we have also successfully implemented a daily local-regional quantitative program of ozone forecasting based on real-time photochemical modeling in forecast mode. At the same time, we have also continued our daily ozone forecast program based on local statistical modeling.

Task 5: Extend forecast modeling capability for meteorology and chemistry
Under this Task, we had two main objectives: (a) to upgrade the statistical ozone forecasting by including the role of regional ozone transport (by changing the use of today’s observed ozone in the statistical formula for predicting tomorrow’s peak ozone from the locally-observed value to that observed in the upwind airmass predicted to arrive in Birmingham tomorrow); and (b) to implement and test the utility of a comprehensive uban-regional photochemical ozone forecast modeling system (including the role of regional ozone transport and chemistry) as an additional input to local ozone forecasting. Task (5a) remains to be accomplished during 2002, but we were able to successfully implement Task (5b) -- a Real-Time Ozone Forecast System (RTOFS) based on urban-regional meteorological/ emissions/photochemical modeling, and we are currently in the process of testing its utility in local ozone forecasting.

Task 6: Public outreach
The main new element in the area of public outreach has been the development of a new web site at UAH. Links to the web site will be available from the JCDH and ADEM web sites. The developmental work is still continuing and the new site will be opened to the public at the beginning of the 2002 ozone season, in fully operational status. Particularly since it is possible for the Birmingham area to be designated in attainment of the 1-hour ozone NAAQS at the end of the 2002 ozone season, an intense public outreach campaign is being planned, to be launched in conjunction with a special media event to promote the Birmingham EMPACT program. We plan to inaugurate the new web site at that time. Our public outreach program has other elements also. Local media services have been extremely supportive of getting news about air quality to the public (especially noteworthy were The Birmingham News, The Birmingham Post-Herald, and local television meteorologists from NBC, ABC, and FOX6 affiliates). Stakeholders in the local ozone action program, especially the Alabama Partners for Clean Air (APCA), have also helped to provide "timely public access to air quality information." Educational programs have been numerous and have included outreach programs to approximately forty neighborhood associations, to many public and private schools, as well as colleges and universities (one of the APCA members alone spread the air quality news to 35,000 students), and to many civic-social, business, and environmental groups.

Task 7: Program sustainability and national transferrability
In Year 1, the focus was on program development. The task of program sustainability and national transferrability will be met in Year 2.

Future Activities (by Task):

Continue the following tasks in Year 2:
Tasks 3, 4: Regional visibility mapping as a surrogate for PM2.5.
Task 6: Public Outreach.
Task 7: Program Sustainability and National Program Transferrability.

Relevant Web Sites:

Main EMPACT-Birmingham web site at UAH:
Password protected Web site at MCNC:
JCDH web site (Home):
JCDH web site (Air Pollution Control):
JCDH web site (Daily AQI):
ADEM web site:
AL Partners for Clean Air: