Sniffing NW Colorado air quality

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Data gathered at a new air quality monitoring site in Rangely resulted in an  “ozone action day alert” for western Rio Blanco County in early February.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sponsors two air quality monitoring stations in Rio Blanco County, one in Rangely and one in Meeker. These sites monitor ambient conditions for ozone, fine particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen and several meteorological parameters. They are funded by the BLM and operated by staff from the White River Field Office (WRFO) in Meeker, Colo.
The BLM monitors and utilizes air quality information for future planning and use authorization. The BLM and Rio Blanco County jointly operate these sites for the purpose of monitoring air quality for factors affecting human health. Winter inversions and energy development in the region and neighboring Uintah Basin contribute to the value of the Rangely site.
The inversions provide stable atmospheric conditions which may be one factor which contributes to ozone formation.
“The monitoring sites add another layer of technical capability and dimension to our field office,” said Kent Walter, WRFO Manager. “They give us another opportunity to partner with other agencies, to build on our responsibilities as a good neighbor and to provide us with more data for our regulatory responsibilities in the region.”
These monitoring stations, established in 2010, are Federal Reference Method (FRM) Air Quality Stations and are fully supported by the BLM in Colorado. Northwestern Colorado is limited in available air quality data. With public interest and current levels of activity in energy development, these sites provide regional air quality monitoring data.
Emissions affecting human health from other regions can influence local air quality and local emissions can potentially have regional consequences. The region has been an area that air quality modelers and regulators have wanted more data from for some time.
The BLM and Rio Blanco County collaborate on the joint operation of the sites. The Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Science Center is the host of the Meeker air quality site and the Western Rio Blanco Recreation and Park District is the host of the Rangely air quality site.
The monitoring program is designed to yield data that will document and characterize the ambient air quality conditions for ozone, fine particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen. Other data monitored includes meteorological information such as air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, solar radiation, barometric pressure and precipitation.