Air Monitoring in Kentucky: It’s all in the Plan

Day in and day out, a network of air monitoring stations keep watch over Kentucky’s air quality.  Scattered across the Commonwealth, these stations contain sophisticated instruments that sample and monitor for pollutants in the ambient (outdoor) air.

Kentucky’s current network consists of 35 air monitoring stations operated by the Division for Air Quality (DAQ), the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District and the National Park Service.  These state and local air monitoring stations monitor criteria pollutants for which National Ambient Air Quality Standards have been issued: ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and lead.  The network also includes special purpose monitors for collecting air toxics and meteorological data.

So, how does the DAQ determine exactly where to place ambient air monitoring stations?

Locations are carefully selected in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.  In general, monitors are placed in densely populated areas or near sources of pollution, whether it’s a busy highway or a stationary source with a smokestack.  Weather data can also be a factor, for example, average wind velocity and direction can help determine where pollutants might travel, which in turn can influence monitoring site decisions.

Federal law requires states to review, update and submit their air monitoring network plans to the EPA each year.  That’s exactly what the DAQ did on June 30 when it submitted Kentucky’s 2017 Ambient Air Monitoring Network Plan to the EPA.  The plan outlines where, why and how Kentucky’s air monitoring stations are sited across the Commonwealth.

If you’re an air quality geek, or just curious about the air you breathe, Kentucky’s Network Plan is filled with fascinating details on how pollutants are monitored, site descriptions and areas served by each monitoring station.  You can see pictures of each station and explore how each type of air sampler works for its specific pollutant.

You can access Kentucky’s 2017 Annual Ambient Air Monitoring Network Plan here.  Sure, it’s a bit technical, but nowhere else will you get such a detailed glimpse into how Kentucky keeps an eye on its air quality.