Collecting Air Toxics Data Nationwide

Project Brief

The Challenge

Air pollution is harmful to human health, causing many health effects, including cancer, asthma, emphysema, and even birth defects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency works to reduce the public’s exposure to air pollution through its National Hazardous Air Pollutants Support program. This program establishes the trends, supports the exposure assessments, and informs the air quality models that help state, local, and tribal agencies understand and appreciate the nature and extent of local toxic air pollution. Collecting reliable, high-quality data is critical to achieving this goal.

ERG's Solution

For more than 35 years, EPA has relied on ERG to collect, measure, and interpret air toxics data for the NHAPS program. We have designed monitoring networks, comprising more than 200 rural and urban sites across the country, to sustain and strengthen the following EPA programs:

  • The Urban Air Toxics Monitoring Program (UATMP), which characterizes the type and magnitude of air toxics pollution.
  • National Air Toxics Trends Stations (NATTS), which obtain long-term ambient air toxics concentration data to support trend analysis.
  • Community-Scale Air Toxics Ambient Monitoring (CSATAM), which supports short-term local-scale investigative projects.
  • Photochemical Assessment Monitoring Stations (PAMS) to evaluate trends in ozone and ozone precursors.
  • Nonmethane organic compound (NMOC) measurements to better understand ozone formation.

ERG played a critical role in the formation and implementation of all these programs, and our support continues to this day. We arrange site and laboratory logistics, set up site equipment and train operators, develop comprehensive quality assurance project plans and associated standard operating procedures, analyze samples, submit data in EPA’s Air Quality System, and characterize and report data. Also, each year we analyze and interpret these monitoring data to prepare a comprehensive report for EPA that describes pollutant-specific detection rates, concentrations ranges, and central tendency statistics; risk-based cancer and non-cancer screening results; program-level variability analyses; and trends and measures of precision and accuracy through audits and proficiency testing samples.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency