In our last post on this topic we left off asking the question, “given how much wildland fires change year to year, how do we build an emissions inventory (EI) that is representative of a multi-year period, or a future period?” This is a confounding problem not only for the Regional Haze planning process but for any air quality planning exercise that a regulatory agency engages with.
In 2011, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for gold ore processing and production facilities. This rule is set forth in Volume 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 63 Subpart EEEEEEE (40 CFR 63 Subpart EEEEEEE). These gold ore processing and production facilities are required to obtain a federal permit under 40 CFR part 70 or 40 CFR part 71 (Title V operating permit), even if they are not associated with a major source.
For centuries, humans used mercury to extract gold or silver. Incredibly dangerous if inhaled directly, mercury also poses an environmental burden when it is released into the atmosphere or ends up in water. Mercury release can have natural (from volcanoes and forest fires) or man-made (anthropogenic) origins (power plants and manufacturing). One anthropogenic source linked to Air Sciences’ work is gold mining in Nevada.
Dust from wind traveling across open land areas is a common phenomenon on all continents of the world. Whether a tilled field or a geographic feature like a dry lakebed, these areas can emit dust that impacts public respiratory health. Knowing the potential for adverse health effects is difficult to quantify. Varying surface conditions, weather, and rates of emission are inherent to this challenge. Read more
Wildfires are growing in intensity and frequency as the climate changes, draining resources for firefighting often early in the season. Traditional methods of fire towers or satellite imaging are not effective until fires are of substantial size. Air Sciences intern Mikhail Mayers, a computer engineering student at Portland State University, is working with some other students to detect smaller fires sooner. Read more