Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bay Area's Most Congested Freeways to Get Air Pollution Monitors

By Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
Bay Area News Group

BERKELEY -- Ever wonder how much pollution is coming off the Bay Area's most congested freeways? 

In January, anyone with an Internet connection will be able to see pollution data posted by three new devices placed next to the area's most used freeways in Berkeley, Oakland and San Jose. 

The devices are being installed by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District as part of an EPA-mandated program to monitor heavy particulate matter and nitric oxides along major highways in urban areas. 

Ralph Borrmann, a spokesman for the air quality district, said the monitors should be online by Jan. 1. 

"It's monitoring for particulates and carbon monoxide," Borrmann said. "That's the stuff that can kill you." 

The Berkeley monitor will be on the east side of Interstate 80 at Aquatic Park, the most congested freeway segment in the entire Bay Area, according to an air quality district report. 

A second monitor will be placed on the Laney College campus on the east side of Interstate 880, a site in the top five areas of freeway congestion in the Bay Area. 

"Both are near locations where it is reasonable to assume significant populations would be exposed to freeway emissions," the report said. 

The third site slated to come on line in January is in San Jose, just south of the convergence of three freeways, Interstates 280, 680 and Highway 101. 

That site has "significant housing and population within a few miles," the report said. 

Borrmann said the air quality district already has 26 air pollution monitoring sites around the Bay Area, but those are different because¿ they measure the ambient air and are not placed right next to major sources of pollution output. 

"Those are representative of the air quality in general," Borrmann said of the original monitoring sites. The new ones, he said, "are designed to just give you information about what's coming off the roadway." 

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