Identify Sources Of Ozone And Mercury To The State Of Nevada

Mae Gustin working in the lab

NAES scientists have collected aerosol (particulate matter) chemistry samples through collaboration with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Clark County Department of Air Quality, Great Basin National Park, and the University of California-Davis. Data were collected by an instrument pioneered by Tony VanCuren who is a research faculty at UC Davis-the Rotating Drum (DRUM).

Results have significant implications for policymakers since data from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection as part of the Nevada Rural Ozone Initiative (NVROI) has demonstrated that Nevada will be out of compliance with a lowered ozone standard.

What remains to be done is to parse out the contribution from specific sources. This project will allow NAES scientists to do this using trace metal chemistry.

In brief, airborne particles from natural sources (e.g. soil dust, wild fire smoke) and anthropogenic sources (e.g. coal burning, motor vehicles) differ in their sizes and chemical composition.  Trace amounts of various elements (Fe, Al, Ca, S, K, V, etc.) can be used to distinguish among sources and in combination with meteorological analyses, these “fingerprints” can be used to identify their geographic origins.

This work also will be intertwined with NAES work looking at sources of mercury to the Western United States funded by the Electric Power Research Institute. For this project the team will calculate boundary layer mixing height and atmospheric stability. This information will be important for determining the height from which atmosphere pollution coming into Nevada is derived.