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Albany South End Community Air Quality Study Questions and Answers

We will continue to update these questions and answers, as more are asked. Please send your questions related to the Albany South End Community Study to Dar.web@dec.ny.gov.

Monitoring Equipment

Q: What is the difference between the portable instruments and the fixed monitoring shelters?
A: The instruments in the fixed monitoring shelters will operate continuously throughout the study period. These instruments are more accurate and reliable than the portable instruments. One monitor is located at the Ezra Prentice homes and the other is on 3rd Avenue near Hawk Street. The portable instruments are useful for assessing an entire neighborhood and along roadways. They help us understand pollutant levels for short periods of time.

Q: After samples are collected by the two different methods, will you be able to compare the results collected for the same type of pollutants?
A: Yes. We will do comparisons between the data collected from the instruments in the fixed shelters and the portable instruments for the same collection time.

Image of Ultrafine Particle Counter

Ultrafine Particle Counter,
Portable Instrument

Q: Do the portable instruments have the capability of recording exact location with GPS (Global Positioning System)?
A: Yes. The instruments do record the location of the sample collected. The data and the location information are updated every second. We will use that information to display the results on a map.

Portable Sampling

Q: What times of the day will you be sampling for traffic pollutants? Will you be sampling as early as 6 am in the morning? Because even at that early hour there is a lot of traffic.
A: It's important for us to collect information during various traffic conditions. Therefore, we will be walking through the neighborhood with our portable instruments at various times of the day, including early in the morning and during rush hours when traffic is heavy. The fixed monitors will help us determine the most important times for using the portable instruments.

Monitoring Shelters (Trailers)

Air monitoring station located at Ezra Prentice homes

Fixed Monitoring Shelter at
Ezra Prentice homes

Q: Do the trailers make noise?
A: A small amount of noise can be heard from the air conditioner inside the trailer. Most of the equipment is inside the trailer.

Locations

Q: Will you be collecting air samples near playgrounds and other areas where children are outdoors?
A: Yes. We will be studying the impact of traffic pollutants in areas where children spend time.

Q: Are you using the portable instruments to establish baseline air concentrations?
A: No. We are using the portable instruments to look at two types of particle pollutants, ultrafine particles and black carbon. We will use these two types of pollutants as indicators of traffic.

Q: Why aren't the monitors closer to residents in the community?
A: Although it may not seem so, the monitor locations are very close to people. The fixed stationary monitor at Ezra Prentice is in the middle of the apartment complex. The portable instruments will be used in residential neighborhoods and near playgrounds and parks.

Q: Why aren't you monitoring indoors?
A: We are monitoring outdoor air to look at the impacts of specific outdoor sources in the Albany South End neighborhood. This study is not an assessment of indoor sources and DEC doesn't regulate indoor sources of air pollution. The County and State Departments of Health can help people with questions about indoor sources of air pollution.

Q: Are the instruments affected by weather?
A: The portable instruments can't be used when it's raining or snowing, or the temperatures are below 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The instruments in the fixed monitor shelters are designed to work year-round and under all kinds of weather conditions.

Q: Does weather affect the pollution in the air?
A: The movement of pollutants is affected by weather changes. For example, high winds will move the pollutants faster and dilute air pollutant concentrations. Sometimes at night when the winds are calm and the skies are clear or in valleys like Albany South End, cold air drains into the valley, causing temperatures at ground level to be colder than the air higher up. This is called a temperature inversion and it has the effect of trapping air pollution because it inhibits rising air that normally disperses pollution. When an inversion is in place, air pollution from smoke stacks, chimneys and vehicles will tend to remain close to the ground with the cold air. In most weather conditions, the inversion will dissipate once the sun has come up and the air starts moving again.

Scheduling and Sampling hours

Q: How often will you use the portable instruments?
A: We haven't established a schedule for the portable instrument sampling. Our goal is to sample during various traffic periods, such as early morning and evening commutes, but also during other hours in the day when truck traffic is moving goods to and from nearby businesses and Port facilities.

Q: Can you provide a schedule of your portable sampling events and can we participate in the sampling?
A: We want the community to be involved in our sampling efforts. There are several ways for people to participate - for example people can walk with us and use the instruments to collect samples or sit with an instrument and record nearby traffic patterns. If you are interested in participating, please send your contact information to Dar.web@dec.ny.gov or call 518-402-8508.

Study Design

Q: After the study has concluded and all the research is done, how will the study benefit the community and residents?
A: The study results will provide a better understanding of the type and amount of pollution in the neighborhood and time of day when higher levels of pollution are found. Also, we will have better picture of how far the traffic-generated air pollution moves into the community. The study findings compared to data on traffic patterns are needed to determine what interventions will improve air quality in this neighborhood.

Q: Will the public have access to the results collected?
A: All results will be available to the public. The preliminary results collected at the fixed monitoring shelters are available as soon as they are collected on DEC's web site here: http://www.nyaqinow.net/. Results from the portable monitoring will be available in summary format or by request because the one second collection frequency makes the data file sizes quite large.

Q: How are you going to record real-time conditions?
A: The fixed monitoring sites are collecting meteorological conditions including wind speed and wind direction. We are working on getting instruments in place to collect traffic information. During the portable monitoring events, researchers will collect information about current conditions and document neighborhood conditions (such as traffic congestion).

Q: How can residents share information like photos of pollution sources or areas to sample because of activities such as traffic congestion?
A: Any information you have, that you think will be helpful for the study should be emailed to Dar.web@dec.ny.gov or call us at 518-402-8508.

Q: I noticed that Mount Hope is not on your maps. Are you collecting air samples at this location?
A: Yes, we have taken air samples with our portable instrument in that area. We will include it in future maps.


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  • Division of Air Resources
    Bureau of Air Quality Surveillance
    625 Broadway
    Albany NY 12233-3256
    518-402-8508
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