S84 Creating a data aquisition system to study air quality trends in Maryland

Sunday, 23 January 2011
Robert C. Harriston, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA

Maryland has some of the worst air quality records out of any state. It's geographic proximity to our nations capital, along with high altitude winds carrying soot from the polluted Ohio River Valley make it a prime spot for hazy and unhealthy air. Many days during the summer months, the ozone concentration is at code orange or red, well above the government's permitted standards. However, ozone is not the only issue when dealing with the air quality in this region. Multiple other trace gases contribute to the declining air quality. The concentrations of these pollutants need to be tracked and measured so that further steps can be taken to lessen the problem. The implementation of a data acquisition unit measuring the concentrations of these gases has proven to be a start. Ozone, along with Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Nitric Oxide, and Nitric Oxide concentrations are currently all being measured in Maryland 24 hours per day at a frequency of 1 Hz in order to graphically and numerically plot data, through use of gas analyzers and a micro logger. The data acquisition is performed via Lab View computer programming software. Initial programs for the DAQ were created using thermocouples instead of gas analyzers to ensure function and accuracy of the data. These gas analyzers have been running for about two months now and have been successful at pointing out long-term as well as short-term trends for the concentrations of these six mentioned gases. All data is being stored on a public server so anybody who wants access to it for research purposes is permitted. The success of the data acquisition unit is a crucial first step in improving air quality in the Mid-Atlantic.
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