Public Access to Environmental Monitoring Data in Tucson, Arizona

EPA Grant Number: R827052
Title: Public Access to Environmental Monitoring Data in Tucson, Arizona
Investigators: Esposito, David , Burgess, Jefferey L. , Comrie, Andrew C. , Comrie, Leonore , Davis, Shannon , O'Rourke, Mary Kay
Current Investigators: Kramer, Ursula , Burgess, Jefferey L. , Byrd, Wayne , Comrie, Andrew C. , Comrie, Leonore , Gorman, Beth , Hines, Stefani , O'Rourke, Mary Kay
Institution: Pima County
Current Institution: Pima County , University of Arizona
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: November 1, 1998 through October 31, 2000 (Extended to March 31, 2002)
Project Amount: $485,100
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Statistics , Water , Sustainability , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


Tucson, Arizona is a unique western urban area with a strong public appreciation for and commitment to the surrounding natural environment. Tucsonans have shown increasing concern over air pollution, both in terms of individual health and environmental impacts that may be occurring in the mountains and high desert lands that are locally, nationally, and internationally valued for their pristine condition. Saguaro National Park, which lies adjacent to both the eastern and western boundaries of the metropolitan area, is a federally designated Class I Wilderness Area threatened by Tucson's air pollution.

Public communication is particularly important in our region since many residents move here specifically to alleviate health problems. The percentage of residents that are sensitive to air pollutants, even at levels below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), is higher than the national average. There are also economically disadvantaged areas within the city that have higher documented rates of pediatric asthma. Timely dissemination of air pollution data is particularly important to these individuals, especially children, in order to avoid exposures that may exacerbate acute disease responses.


Using air quality as the pilot medium, the overall objective will be to produce media and public communication programs about air quality, the Tucson environment, health concerns, and local solutions to improve air quality. This integrated, community-based program will: 1) collect and disseminate accurate, understandable, and timely air pollution information; 2) expand associated outreach and education programs to improve understanding of the relationships between air quality, climate and health effects; and 3) allow the community to address local air pollution problems and solutions based on credible scientific information.


Contained within a comprehensive Information Management System, mapping protocols will be developed for web-based and graphic reporting of air quality and associated urban air parameters. Previously unavailable and highly technical information from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality's continuous measurement systems for visibility and urban haze research in Pima County will be presented in understandable, usable, real-time formats. Raw data transformation of a center city transmissometer, one urban and one Class I Wilderness nephelometer, and surface meteorological stations will be used to show variations in visual air quality and referenced to Standard Visual Range. A panoramic digital camera system overlooking the Tucson valley will allow for unattended video monitoring on the opening Pima County Department of Environmental Quality(PDEQ) web-page. Additional special purpose studies in underserved areas and expanded agency and stakeholder outreach programs will be marketed to assist the public in day-to-day decision making.

Expected Results:

The Tucson community will use the Information Management System to access current air quality and visibility conditions and graphically displayed data. Expanded public outreach and training of media and teaching professionals will build on the capacity of Tucsonans to address local environmental issues. Transferable sustainable technology will be available as a template for other areas to provide their community with a similar partnership for environmental decision making.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 11 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

EMPACT, air, monitoring, southwest., RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Air, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, climate change, State, Risk Assessments, Susceptibility/Sensitive Population/Genetic Susceptibility, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, Children's Health, genetic susceptability, asthma, sensitive populations, EMPACT, air toxics, community-based approach, meteorology, airway disease, public information, respiratory problems, air pollution, children, Human Health Risk Assessment, time-relevant monitoring, human exposue, Arizona (AZ), web site development, children's vulnerablity, assessment of exposure, childhood respiratory disease, community outreach, environmental toxicant, sampling, human susceptibility, public outreach, public health alerts, outreach and education, age dependent response, air quality, atmospheric chemistry, human health risk, real-time monitoring, toxics

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • Final Report