Closest air quality monitoring site located in Forest Park

The closest EPD air monitoring site, shown here, is in Forest Park, Georgia, according to EPD officials.  Forest Park- Georgia DOT Address: 25 Kennedy Drive, Forest Park, Clayton County, Georgia Site Established: 1/1/78 Latitude/Longitude: N33.609722/W-84.391111 Elevation: 288 meters Area Represented: Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta MSA 

The closest EPD air monitoring site, shown here, is in Forest Park, Georgia, according to EPD officials.
Forest Park- Georgia DOT
Address: 25 Kennedy Drive, Forest Park, Clayton County, Georgia Site Established: 1/1/78
Latitude/Longitude: N33.609722/W-84.391111
Elevation: 288 meters
Area Represented: Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta MSA


Spalding County air quality is not directly monitored, but expected to meet state and federal standards

Although many federal and state air quality regulations mandate standards that must be met and maintained, the air in Spalding County is not directly monitored.

“There are six air pollutants that the federal government has designated as necessary to monitor. Those six pollutants are carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, lead and particulate matter,” said Susan Zimmer-Dauphinee, project manager for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) Ambient Monitoring Program. “For each of these, they (the federal Environmental Protection Division – EPA), have done health-based studies and made certain recommendations that levels don’t rise above those health-based standards.”

The process for monitoring the various types of air pollutants varies, utilizing different analytical techniques. For lead, a detection machine similar to a vacuum cleaner is used to draw air through a filter that is later evaluated for its chemical analysis in a laboratory setting. For the remaining five classified pollutants, instruments are used in the field, providing an immediate on-site analysis that give minute-by-minute readings on levels of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone and particulate matter.

“All the states are required to do monitoring by a number of rules the EPA has put out, but we don’t do it in every county in the state,” Zimmer-Dauphinee said. “We do it in designated areas where there’s a large population. That data is then sent to the EPA.”

However, none of those analytic resources are used to monitor local air quality as it is not one of the EPD’s designated areas.

According to Harold Reheis, executive vice-president of Joe Tanner & Associates, the environmental consulting firm representing Spalding County in its attempt to obtain designation as a PM 2.5 (particulate matter) attainment district, air quality monitoring sites are limited due to restricted resources.

“Nobody’s got enough resources to measure air quality in every county in America, so what the EPA and EPD and fellow agencies in all states nationwide do is pick out places where it’s most important to monitor, according to where the population centers are located and which way the prevailing winds blow,” Reheis said. “Those sites are chosen carefully to be representative of the area.”

He said there are currently ten monitoring sites in the 20-county metropolitan Atlanta area.

“Those monitoring sites were chosen by the state with the assistance of the EPA,” he said. “The closest one to Spalding County is in Forest Park, in Clayton County. You try to get the closest areas that are going to have similar quality air.”

Although he acknowledged a number of differences between Forest Park and Spalding County including the population, concentration of businesses and industries, number of vehicles in use on local roadways and Forest Park’s proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, a number of other factors are considered when applying Forest Park’s air pollutant analyses to Spalding County.

“By looking at as many monitors as you can in the area, knowing where the sources of pollution are and which way the prevailing winds blow, you can make a pretty good assessment of an area that doesn’t have a monitor,” Reheis said. “Spalding County tends to be downwind of Clayton County. In other words, in this part of the state, winds tend to be out of the west or the south, so you would tend to think if the air quality is meeting its standards in Clayton County, Spalding County will be meeting those standards, too. Despite the differences in the two areas, a place like Spalding County is going to be less affected by those pollution sources being on the downwind side of the metropolitan area.”

He said that puts Spalding County in a good position, as 2012 Forest Park monitoring analyses indicated the air quality was meeting federal and state standards. Asked if the local impact would automatically be negative if the standards were not being met in Forest Park, Reheis said, “It wouldn’t necessarily be applied that way. You can certainly get a very good idea of it. You have to make extrapolations, but they can be made based on a lot of facts and common sense. From that, you can deduce whether your air quality is meeting standards and can be expected to continue to meet standards.” Ω

 

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