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What happens when an air monitoring station suffers catastrophic damage?
June 09, 2022
EGLE’s Air Quality Division measures a variety of air pollutants with over 100 air monitors at over 40 sites statewide. The measured pollutants include ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, lead, particulate matter, and air toxics. All of this together is called Michigan’s Air Monitoring Network. The network uses a digital data system to measure, record, and send outdoor air information to a secure server which posts this real-time data to Deqmiair.org.
On Monday, April 25, staff reviewing data from the previous day noticed missing information at the Jenison site, located west of Grand Rapids. When the environmental technician arrived onsite, it was clear a surge in electricity was the source of the missing data. Staff contacted the utility provider and the local municipality. Through conversations, it was determined that when a vehicle struck a nearby utility pole, a power surge caused by the accident went through the electrical box and into the station shelter.
The Jenison station measures ozone and particulate matter (dust). The monitors were taken offsite to see if they were still operational or if they would need repairs before being re-deployed. The power supplies were replaced, and the equipment was prepared to be reinstalled.
The shelter for the monitors was already scheduled to be replaced, so staff were able to take this unexpected downtime and turn it into an opportunity to put in the new shelter. To get the shelter replaced and the monitors up and running, AQD staff pulled out all the stops to get the old shelter removed, the site prepared for a new shelter and then the new shelter installed and the monitors up and running. The Jenison station will continue to monitor ozone and particulate matter.
"Operating our air monitoring network continuously is not only required but is essential for the protection of public health by providing us the necessary information to issue air quality alerts when the outdoor air could be harmful." said Susan Kilmer AQD's Air Monitoring Section Manager
Michigan’s Air Monitoring Network Review for 2023 is currently open for public comment until June 23.. Find more information on air monitoring in Michigan on our air monitoring webpage and on the interactive map.
Caption: Electric panel after surge damage.