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Air Quality of Stockton University’s Campus

Zoey Dodson ENVL 4300 Stockton University Spring 2016

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Abstract

The EPA sets specific standards for six criteria pollutants in the National Ambient

Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Air quality around various locations on Stockton

University’s campus was tested using a TG501 Toxic Gas Probe and IQ610 IAQ Probe

on a Wolfpack Area Monitor and Advanced Sense Environmental Test Meter. Readings

were taken for the four of the six criteria pollutants along with other parameters. The

objective of this paper is to discuss and compare differences in air quality between

locations on campus and with the NAAQS. There were no detectable levels in sulfur

dioxide or ozone, likely due to a lack of emissions or sunlight for ozone. Nitrogen

dioxide levels were either non detectable or relatively low. It was detected in places

where emissions from cars are nearby compared with places further away from such

sources where it was not detected. CO levels in Steve’s car were the highest. All CO

levels were lower than the NAAQS limits. CO 2 varied between locations and was mainly

dependent on the amount of people nearby and the area of the space.

Table of Contents

Introduction

2

Materials and Methods

3

Results

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Discussion

5

Conclusion

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References

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Introduction

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is the quality of the air inside and around buildings and

structures (EPA, 2016). The condition of air is important because polluted air can be

hazardous to health. According to the World Health Organization, there are over 2

million premature deaths caused by the pollution of urban outdoor air and indoor air

around the world every year (World Health Organization, 2005).

The EPA is required by the Clean Air Act to create National Ambient Air Quality

Standards (NAAQS) for pollutants deemed hazardous to human health and the

environment. Pollutant standards are categorized as primary, secondary, or both.

Pollutants categorized as primary are considered dangerous for public health. Secondary

pollutants are those that do not affect human health. They may have negative effects like

decreased visibility or building, vegetation, and animal damage. The following pollutants

are four of the six criteria pollutants, which were tested for on campus. The average level

of carbon monoxide should not exceed an average of 9 ppm over 8 hours or 35 ppm for

one hour. Carbon monoxide is ranked as a primary pollutant. Nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ),

which has primary and secondary standards, should not exceed an average of 100 ppb

over an hour or an average of 53 ppb over a year. Ozone (O 3 ), primary and secondary,

should not have levels higher than 0.070 ppm over 8 hours. Sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ) is

considered a primary pollutant if it exceeds an average of 75 ppb over one hour. If it

exceeds 0.5 ppm for a duration of 3 hours, it is considered a secondary pollutant (EPA,

2016).

The air quality around Stockton University’s campus was tested for the six criteria

pollutants (except for PM and lead) along with other parameters in numerous sites, both

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indoors and outdoors. The purpose of this paper is to make comparisons of different

parameter levels between locations and discuss the possible reasons for these differences.

Comparisons will also be made between the pollutant levels around campus and the

NAAQS.

Materials and Methods

Air quality readings were taken in nine different locations. These locations were

Arts and Sciences Building 209, B wing 008, campus center, campus center bus stop, C

wing atrium, I wing gym, Lake Fred, parking lot, and Steve’s car. The Advanced Sense

Environmental Test Meter and the Wolfpack Area Monitor, which are both from

GrayWolf Sensing Solutions, were used for data collection. Both monitors were equipped

with the TG501 Toxic Gas Probe and IQ610 IAQ Probe. Readings were taken for sulfur

dioxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, ammonia, ozone, temperatue, carbon dioxide,

hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, and relative humidity. At each location, data was

collected for three minutes resulting in sixteen to nineteen readings for each parameter.

The following results and discussion will not include any data attained by the

Wolfpack Area Monitor, because it was not calibrated. Its readings are unreliable. Box

and whisker plots were created for carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide using the data

collected by the Advanced Sense Environmental Test Meter. For nitrogen dioxide, the

means were calculated for two different locations and an unpaired t-test was used.

Results

In all locations and for all readings, SO 2 was 0 ppm. Ozone also only had readings

of 0 ppm. Nitrogen dioxide was either not detectable or relatively low in all of the

locations. In the locations where there was NO 2 , the levels were either 10 ppb or 20 ppb.

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The means of the parking lot and Lake Fred were taken. The parking lot had a mean of

16.84 ppb and Lake Fred’s mean was 0 ppb. An unpaired t-test resulted in a P value of

less than 0.0001, meaning that the difference between the means is statistically

significant.

Carbon Monoxide Parking Lot Steve's Car 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Carbon Monoxide
Parking Lot
Steve's Car
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
mg/mg 3

Figure 1. Box and whisker plot for carbon monoxide levels tested inside of Steve’s car and in the parking lot right outside of his car.

The carbon monoxide levels inside of Steve’s running car was the location with

the highest CO levels out of all of the locations. Even the minimum concentration

recorded in his car, which was 6.4 mg/mg 3 , was higher than any of the other

concentrations recorded in any of the other locations. The parking lot right outside of his

car had significantly lower levels.

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5 Figure 2. Box and whisker plot for carbon dioxide levels recorded at Lake Fred, C

Figure 2. Box and whisker plot for carbon dioxide levels recorded at Lake Fred, C wing atrium, B008, and I wing gym.

Carbon dioxide levels varied between the different locations, as can be seen in

figure 1. It should be noted that there were at least 26 people near the monitors at each of

the locations. The carbon dioxide emitted from the students in the class affect these

results.

Discussion

Sulfur dioxide was not detected in any of the tested locations. Fossil fuel

combustion from power plants and industrial buildings is one of the main sources of

sulfur dioxide. Point sources include electric power plants and refineries. Non-point

sources include small stationary sources like dry cleaners, gas stations, and wood burning

along with wildfires and agricultural tilling (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 2012).

The level of 0 ppm SO 2 is likely due to the campus being located in the Pinelands and

being distant from industrial facilities. There would likely be detectable levels of SO 2 if

there were controlled (or uncontrolled) burning of the woods occurring.

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Ozone was not detected in any of the locations. Ground level ozone is developed

when nitrogen oxides (NO x ) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) chemically react

with sunlight. Some of the main sources of NO x s and VOCs are emissions from industrial

buildings, electric utilities, gas vapors, car exhaust, and chemical solvents (EPA, 2016). It

is logical that the air quality of the locations tested inside had no detectable levels of

ozone, since there is virtually no sunlight and little NO x and VOC emissions. Because the

day that the air quality was monitored was a sunny day, it would be expected that the

parking lot would have detectable ozone concentrations. The reason there weren’t any

detectable concentrations though, was likely because at the time the data was recorded,

there were no running cars in close proximity to the monitors.

Nitrogen dioxide concentrations were not detected in many of the locations, and

where it was, it was either 10 ppb or 20 ppb. The detectable concentrations are relatively

low. They fall well below the NAAQS limits of 100 ppb for an hour and 53 ppb for a

year. Lake Fred resulted in an average of 0 ppb. The parking lot had a mean of 16.84 ppb.

Nitrogen dioxide originates from vehicle and power plant emissions. This would explain

why Lake Fred had no detectable levels of NO 2 and the parking lot did.

CO levels were detected in all of the locations. In all of the locations, except for

inside of Steve’s car, the CO concentrations were well below the NAAQS limits of 9 ppm

for 8 hours and 35 ppm for one hour. Although Steve’s car has CO levels that are

significantly higher than any of the other locations, the highest level recorded, 15 mg/mg 3

(0.015 ppm) is still significantly under the NAAQS limits. It should be noted that

recordings were only taken for three minutes and his car doors were open. If all of the

doors and windows were shut, the concentrations of CO would definitely be higher,

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which is potentially hazardous to health. The source of carbon monoxide is emissions

from mobiles (EPA, 2016). The higher levels of CO in Steve’s car are likely due to a leak

in his exhaust system (CDC, 2015).

Carbon dioxide is not one of the six criteria pollutants of the NAAQS. It is a

primary greenhouse gas that comes mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels (EPA,

2016). Humans also release CO 2 while breathing. None of the locations in figure 2 are

outdoors, so it is unlikely that the CO 2 levels are coming from combustion of fossil fuels.

The I wing gym likely had the highest levels because of the people exercising in a small

area. Because they were exercising, they released more CO 2 . B008 is also a small space

that had 26 people sitting it all releasing CO 2 . The C wing atrium, at the time it was

tested, had many people walking by. This area probably had the most people but because

it was in a larger area, the concentrations were lower. Lake Fred had some of the lowest

levels because it was in a very open space, with only the classmates nearby.

Conclusion

On the day the sulfur dioxide and ozone concentrations were recorded, both had

levels of 0 ppm at all of the sampled locations. Non-detectable levels of sulfur dioxide are

likely attributed to the campus being distant from industrial facilities. As the campus is

situated in the woods, it is also shows that there were no wildfires occurring nearby.

Ozone concentrations were at 0 ppm because the conditions needed to create ground

ozone was lacking in either sunlight or NO x or VOC emissions. Nitrogen dioxide

concentrations were either not detected or relatively low. The detectable levels were

under the NAAQS limits. Lake Fred had a mean of 0 ppb and the parking lot had a mean

of 16.84 ppb, which can be attributed to the emissions from vehicles.

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CO levels were significantly higher in Steve’s car than outside in the parking.

This is probably because of a leak in his exhaust system. Still, all levels recorded were

below the NAAQS limits for CO. CO 2 data had the highest variability between the

different locations. The levels were largely dependent on the amount of people and the

area of the space the monitors were in.

A long-term study should be conducted on the air quality of both indoor and

outdoor locations on Stockton University’s campus. This would be essential in

determining trends in the six criteria pollutants, as well as other parameters. Air quality is

vital to human health, and thus should be monitored, especially in locations where many

people visit frequently.

References

CDC. (2015). Carbon monoxide poisoning. Retrieved from

http://www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm

EPA. (2016). An introduction to indoor air quality. Retrieved from

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/introduction-indoor-air-quality

EPA. (2016). Carbon monoxide. Retrieved from

https://www3.epa.gov/airquality/carbonmonoxide/

EPA. (2016). National ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). Retrieved from

https://www3.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/criteria.html

EPA. (2016). Nitrogen dioxide. Retrieved from

https://www3.epa.gov/airquality/nitrogenoxides/

EPA. (2016). Overview of greenhouse gases. Retrieved from

https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/co2.html

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EPA. (2016). Ozone pollution. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/ozone-pollution

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. (2012). Sulfur dioxide. Retrieved from

https://www.pca.state.mn.us/air/sulfur-dioxide

World Health Organization. (2005). WHO air quality guidelines for particulate matter,

ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Retrieved from

http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/69477/1/WHO_SDE_PHE_OEH_06.02_

eng.pdf