2001 Progress Report: Public Access to Environmental Monitoring Data in Tucson, Arizona

EPA Grant Number: R827052
Title: Public Access to Environmental Monitoring Data in Tucson, Arizona
Investigators: Kramer, Ursula , Burgess, Jefferey L. , Byrd, Wayne , Comrie, Andrew C. , Comrie, Leonore , Gorman, Beth , Hines, Stefani , O'Rourke, Mary Kay
Institution: University of Arizona
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 Period Covered by this Report: November 1, 2000 through October 31, 2001
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


The objective of the research project is to produce public communication programs about air quality, health effects of air pollution, and actions to improve air quality for dissemination to the media, health professionals, and the general public via the Internet and other methods of public outreach.

Progress Summary:

Progress to date is summarized by objectives below.

Objective 1: Establish a standardized format for the collection, archival, and reporting of data between agencies, including development of a mapping protocol.

Quality assurance for the air quality monitoring data is being maintained by the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ) through the implementation of standard quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) practices as defined in 40 CFR Part 58.

The real-time ozone mapping program for Tucson, Arizona, has taken 2 years to implement. During this time, research pertaining to the development of an automated, real-time map generation procedure has evolved from initial data exploration and analysis, to a review of a variety of spatial interpolation and modeling methods, to the development of pilot statistical models, and the eventual development and implementation of a final statistical algorithm that enables ozone mapping across the metropolitan area. The research and development for this part of the project was performed by Mr. Joe Abraham (research assistant) and Dr. Andrew Comrie (associate professor and co-P.I.) in the Department of Geography and Regional Development at The University of Arizona. Implementation of the algorithm on the AirInfoNow Web Site was done in collaboration with Mr. Tom Coffin (PDEQ I.T. program coordinator).

The ozone mapping program for Tucson, Arizona, differs from others in the United States because the scale of the Tucson metropolitan area is much smaller than virtually all other mapping programs to date. In addition, and not surprisingly, these maps were to be created using data from a small set of continuous ozone monitors (currently eight are online in Tucson). Because of the scale and monitor density issue, the current EPA ozone mapping methodology of spatially interpolating ozone measurements was expected to perform poorly. We proposed and developed a regression-based spatial modeling approach, which models the geographic variation of ozone in the Tucson area from both theoretical expectations and empirical evidence. The resulting algorithm has resulted in a satisfactory, and in many ways superior, approach to providing air pollution maps for individual metropolitan areas.

Objective 2: Use innovative technologies to communicate regional real-time (e.g., hourly) air quality monitoring data to a linked public communication system (including Internet Web sites, phone-in information line, radio, TV stations, and newspapers).

Deadline setbacks occurred with the loss of key EMPACT staff members Shannon Davis, Kwame Agyare, and Sheri Ruiz. However, a contract was approved to have Sheri work for PDEQ on a part-time basis as a consultant to complete the final details of the AirInfoNow Web Site. It is anticipated that the Web site will be completed by August. The Web site information will be available in English and Spanish.

The automated dial-up telephone system (520-882-4AIR) is functioning well. This telephone number can be used to obtain the latest Air Quality Index (AQI) reports for the Tucson and Green Valley areas and general information about the PDEQ air programs. A contract for development of the system that reports air quality data directly from the requested monitoring site was issued to a company named DRDAS in Houston, Texas. The telephone line currently is available in English, and the programming and recording for the Spanish language option are near completion.

Objective 3: Provide coordinated outreach and training programs for teachers, media professionals, and other stakeholders, with special emphasis on the areas with high asthma admissions.

Several logo ideas were developed by staff at PDEQ, and one was chosen by the full EMPACT committee. The logo will be used to promote the activities of the EMPACT grant, including the Web site and telephone line. The development of a media training is near completion by Natalie Barnes and Lee Comrie at Pima Association of Governments. Once the Web site is complete, a schedule of training will be set up with members of the local TV, radio, and newspaper staff to inform them of the information available and to encourage their use of the AirInfoNow Web Site.

The development of the teacher training is being completed by Stefani Hines at the University of Arizona Center for Toxicology. Training will be scheduled at the beginning of the school year in schools located in the targeted zip codes with high pediatric asthma rates.

The School Nurse Association has been contacted, and a training is scheduled on September 10 for all school nurse supervisors from each school district in the Tucson area.

Promotional and educational materials have been developed, including an AQI bookmark; separate newsletters for the media, educators, and health professionals; a refrigerator magnet, pen, frisbee, and erasable message board with the telephone line and Web site address; and other materials for distribution to the public.

Objective 4: Assemble, customize, and distribute curricula addressing the potential health risk of ambient airborne exposures in English and Spanish.

Web-based air quality curricular activities have been developed and piloted in local schools. Initial outreaches have taken place at summer school programs in the targeted areas with high pediatric asthma rates. When the Web site is complete, additional outreaches will be scheduled.

All Web pages are being translated into Spanish by staff at the University of Arizona's Environmental Occupational Health Department.

PDEQ will be presenting the EMPACT AirInfoNow program at a statewide environmental education conference in September.

Objective 5: Conduct air quality studies in economically disadvantaged areas with high minority representation that are known to have increased rates of pediatric asthma and that have been traditionally underserved.

Staff at the University of Arizona Environmental Occupational Health Department performed studies using state health data regarding areas with high rates of pediatric asthma. Two monitoring sites have been established for these underserved areas: the Rose Elementary School site, located on South 12th Avenue in south Tucson; and the Coachline site in the Continental Ranch area on the west side of the metropolitan Tucson area. The monitoring site at Rose Elementary was completed in November 2000, and currently measures particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ozone. The Coachline monitoring site was completed in May 2001, and also will monitor for PM2.5, NO2, and ozone.

Objective 6: Enhance collection of air quality measurements by integrating regulatory compliance monitoring with complementary technologies such as visibility indexing.

To provide visibility awareness to the Web users, a digital camera and associated software were purchased and permission garnered to install the camera on the roof of the Pima County Administration Building at 130 West Congress Street in downtown Tucson (11 stories above ground level). All utilities necessary for the camera to function have been installed by Pima County Facilities Management. PDEQ staff fabricated a stand for mounting the camera on the roof; the camera was installed and is sending pictures to the Web site on a near real-time basis.

Future Activities:

Future activities will include: (1) finalizing ozone mapping and air quality data reporting; (2) completing the Spanish options for the telephone line and Web site; (3) continuing the public outreach, especially in the targeted zip code regions; (4) finalizing curricular activities and disseminating through the school outreach; (5) completing the air quality studies in the targeted areas; and (6) finalizing the visibility indexing project on the Web site.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 11 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

ambient air, monitoring, ozone, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, health effects, sensitive populations, Southwest, Arizona, AZ., 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, respiratory problems, public information, Human Health Risk Assessment, air pollution, children, human exposue, time-relevant monitoring, assessment of exposure, childhood respiratory disease, children's vulnerablity, Arizona (AZ), web site development, environmental toxicant, human susceptibility, community outreach, sampling, age dependent response, outreach and education, public health alerts, public outreach, air quality, environmental hazard exposures, toxics, atmospheric chemistry, real-time monitoring

Relevant Websites:

http://www.airinfonow.org Exit EPA icon

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 1999
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • Final Report