Wednesday, 25 January 2012: 2:00 PM
Dust Plume Identification for Human Exposure of Regional Dust Events Using Remote Sensing
Room 333 (New Orleans Convention Center )
As part of an air quality study for the New Mexico Department of Health, Office of Border Health, an assessment of population exposure to air pollutants is being carried out along the US/Mexico border in southwest New Mexico, west Texas, and northwestern Chihuahua. One source of air pollution that is of interest occurs during dust storms. Historic and recent assessments have shown that the fungus Coccidioides posadasii is endemic in Chihuahuan desert soils and is dispersed by low and high-intensity wind events, causing coccidioidomycosis (“cocci”), an infectious pulmonary disease in both acute and chronic forms commonly referred to as “valley fever.” The current exposure surveillance system consists of a network of surface PM-10 and PM-2.5 monitors at some of the larger populated areas. We are evaluating methods to fill in the gaps to assess exposure for the other smaller populated areas using in-situ and remote sensing techniques. One method that involved the use of thermal band brightness temperature difference images to map out the extent of regional-scale dust plumes. We processed AVHRR and MODIS satellite imagery and produced contours that were exported to shapefiles to be used in GIS software. Multiple plume boundaries from each storm were archived and compared to ground based aerosol network and a fixed location ceilometer that measures the vertical extent of the dust layer. This database will be used in a follow-on study linking health data such as hospital admissions with dust storm frequency and severity.