Special Issue "Air Quality in Utah, USA: In Partnership with the Air Quality: Science for Solutions 4"

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Air Quality".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Marc L. Mansfield
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Utah State University, Uintah Basin, 320 N. Aggie Blvd, Vernal, Utah 84078, USA
Interests: winter ozone; emissions by the fossil fuel industry; statistical modeling of environmental data; transport of pollutants across the air/water and the air/snow interfaces; atomospheric chemistry under dry; cold conditions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Utah, USA has unique winter air quality issues related to thermal inversion phenomena in its valleys and basins. During wintertime inversion episodes, the valleys along the Wasatch Front in north–central Utah experience frequent PM2.5 exceedances, while the Uinta Basin in eastern Utah experiences frequent ozone exceedances. High wintertime ozone occurs, so far as we know, in only two regions worldwide as a result of the interplay between several different causative agents. Chemical pathways differ from those in urban summertime ozone systems because the air is colder and drier and because the pollution speciation is different. Interactions with the snowpack may also be important. The difficulty in meteorological modeling of thermal inversions, especially given the complex topography of these valleys and basins, is another complicating factor. These air quality issues impact the health, economy, and quality of life in the state and mitigation strategies based on sound science are needed.

To stimulate progress in the understanding of the unique air quality issues in the State, the journal Atmosphere is planning to produce a Special Issue in partnership with the "Air Quality: Science for Solutions 4" (https://harbor.weber.edu/Airqualityscience/). I am writing to encourage you or your colleagues to submit original research papers related to Utah’s air quality. Suggested topics include but are not limited to:

  • Measurements and modeling of emissions having an impact on Utah’s air quality, including poorly characterized emission sources;
  • Meteorological measurements and modeling aimed at a better understanding of thermal inversion phenomena;
  • Measurements and modeling of air chemistry in the State, including winter ozone and aerosol formation, and interactions with the snowpack;
  • Health, economic or quality of life impacts.

Dr. Marc L. Mansfield
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Utah air quality
  • Winter ozone
  • Uinta basin
  • Wasatch Front
  • Persistent thermal inversions

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Sources of Formaldehyde in Bountiful, Utah
Atmosphere 2021, 12(3), 375; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12030375 - 13 Mar 2021
Viewed by 637
Abstract
The U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s National Air Toxics Trends Stations Network has been measuring the concentration of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) including formaldehyde (HCHO) since 2003. Bountiful, Utah (USA) has served as one of the urban monitoring sites since the network was established. [...] Read more.
The U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s National Air Toxics Trends Stations Network has been measuring the concentration of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) including formaldehyde (HCHO) since 2003. Bountiful, Utah (USA) has served as one of the urban monitoring sites since the network was established. Starting in 2013, the mean concentration of HCHO measured in Bountiful, Utah exceeded the non-cancer risk threshold and the 1 in 1 million cancer risk threshold. In addition, the measured concentrations were more than double those found at surrounding locations in Utah. A Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) analysis using PMF-EPA v5 was performed using historical data (2004–2017) to better understand the sources of formaldehyde in the region. The historical data set included samples that were collected every sixth day on a 24 h basis. Beginning in February 2019 an eight-week air sampling campaign was initiated to measure formaldehyde on a two-hour averaged basis. In addition, the measurements of O3, NO, NO2, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX) were also collected. Corresponding back-trajectory wind calculations for selected time periods were calculated to aid in the understanding of the effects of BTEX emission sources and formaldehyde formation. The results indicate that the principal formaldehyde sources are associated with biomass burning and the conversion of biogenic emissions into HCHO. Back-trajectory wind analysis of low (≤3 ppbv) and high (23.8–32.5 ppbv) HCHO cases show a clear dominance of high HCHO originating in trajectories that come from the southwest and pass over the area of the oil refineries and industrial sources in the north Salt Lake City area. Full article
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Article
Winter Ozone Pollution in Utah’s Uinta Basin is Attenuating
Atmosphere 2021, 12(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12010004 - 23 Dec 2020
Viewed by 635
Abstract
High concentrations of ground-level ozone have been observed during wintertime in the Uinta Basin of western Utah, USA, beginning in 2010. We analyze existing ozone and ozone precursor concentration data from 38 sites over 11 winter seasons and conclude that there has been [...] Read more.
High concentrations of ground-level ozone have been observed during wintertime in the Uinta Basin of western Utah, USA, beginning in 2010. We analyze existing ozone and ozone precursor concentration data from 38 sites over 11 winter seasons and conclude that there has been a statistically significant (p < 0.02) decline in ozone concentration over the previous decade. Daily exceedances of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone (70 ppb) have been trending downward at the rate of nearly four per year. Ozone and NOx concentrations have been trending downward at the rates of about 3 and 0.3 ppb per year, respectively. Concentrations of organics in 2018 were at about 30% of their values in 2012 or 2013. Several markers, annual ozone exceedance counts and median ozone and NOx concentrations, were at their largest values in the period 2010 to 2013 and have never recovered since then. We attribute the decline to (1) weakening global demand for oil and natural gas and (2) more stringent pollution regulations and controls, both of which have occurred over the previous decade. We also see evidence of ozone titration when snow cover is absent. Full article
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Article
High Ethylene and Propylene in an Area Dominated by Oil Production
Atmosphere 2021, 12(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12010001 - 22 Dec 2020
Viewed by 677
Abstract
We measured the spatial distribution and composition of ozone-forming hydrocarbons, alcohols, and carbonyls in Utah’s Uinta Basin during the winter months of 2019 and 2020. The Uinta Basin contains about 10,000 producing oil and gas wells. Snow cover and the region’s unique topography [...] Read more.
We measured the spatial distribution and composition of ozone-forming hydrocarbons, alcohols, and carbonyls in Utah’s Uinta Basin during the winter months of 2019 and 2020. The Uinta Basin contains about 10,000 producing oil and gas wells. Snow cover and the region’s unique topography (i.e., a large basin entirely surrounded by mountains) promote strong, multi-day temperature inversion episodes that concentrate pollution and lead to wintertime ozone production. Indeed, organic compound concentrations were about eight times higher during inversion episodes than during snow-free springtime conditions. We examined spatial associations between wintertime concentrations of organics and oil and gas sources in the region, and we found that concentrations of highly reactive alkenes were higher in areas with dense oil production than in areas with dense gas production. Total alkene+acetylene concentrations were 267 (42, 1146; lower and upper 95% confidence limits) µg m−3 at locations with 340 or more producing oil wells within 10 km (i.e., 75th percentile) versus 12 (9, 23) µg m−3 at locations with 15 or fewer oil wells (i.e., 25th percentile). Twenty-eight percent of the potential for organic compounds to produce ozone was due to alkenes in areas with dense oil production. Spatial correlations and organic compound ratios indicated that the most likely source of excess alkenes in oil-producing areas was natural gas-fueled engines, especially lean-burning (i.e., high air:fuel ratio) artificial lift engines. Full article
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Article
Human Health and Economic Costs of Air Pollution in Utah: An Expert Assessment
Atmosphere 2020, 11(11), 1238; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11111238 - 18 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3059
Abstract
Air pollution causes more damage to health and economy than previously understood, contributing to approximately one in six deaths globally. However, pollution reduction policies remain controversial even when proven effective and cost negative, partially because of misunderstanding and growing mistrust in science. We [...] Read more.
Air pollution causes more damage to health and economy than previously understood, contributing to approximately one in six deaths globally. However, pollution reduction policies remain controversial even when proven effective and cost negative, partially because of misunderstanding and growing mistrust in science. We used an expert assessment to bridge these research–policy divides in the State of Utah, USA, combining quantitative estimates from 23 local researchers and specialists on the human health and economic costs of air pollution. Experts estimated that air pollution in Utah causes 2480 to 8000 premature deaths annually (90% confidence interval) and decreases the median life expectancy by 1.1 to 3.6 years. Economic costs of air pollution in Utah totaled $0.75 to $3.3 billion annually, up to 1.7% of the state’s gross domestic product. Though these results were generally in line with available estimates from downscaled national studies, they were met with surprise in the state legislature, where there had been an almost complete absence of quantitative health and economic cost estimates. We discuss the legislative and personal responses of Utah policy makers to these results and present a framework for increasing the assimilation of data into decision making via regional expert assessment. In conclusion, combining quantitative assessments from local experts is a responsive and cost-effective tool to increase trust and information uptake during time-sensitive policy windows. Full article
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Article
Mass Transport of Gases across the Air–Water Interface: Implications for Aldehyde Emissions in the Uinta Basin, Utah, USA
Atmosphere 2020, 11(10), 1057; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11101057 - 02 Oct 2020
Viewed by 555
Abstract
When they dissolve in water, aldehydes become hydrated to gem-diols: RCOH+H2ORCH(OH)2. Such reactions can complicate air–water transport models. Because of a persistent belief that the gem-diols do not exist in [...] Read more.
When they dissolve in water, aldehydes become hydrated to gem-diols: RCOH+H2ORCH(OH)2. Such reactions can complicate air–water transport models. Because of a persistent belief that the gem-diols do not exist in the vapor phase, typical models do not allow them to pass through the air–water interface, but in fact, they do. Therefore, transport models that allow both molecular forms to exist in both phases and to pass through the interface are needed. Such a model is presented here as a generalization of Whitman’s two-film model. Since Whitman’s model has fallen into disuse, justification of its use is also given. There are hypothetical instances for which the flux predicted by the current model is significantly larger than the flux predicted when models forbid the diol form from passing through the interface. However, for formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, the difference is about 6% and 2%, respectively. Full article
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Review

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Review
Historic and Modern Air Pollution Studies Conducted in Utah
Atmosphere 2020, 11(10), 1094; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11101094 - 13 Oct 2020
Viewed by 1363
Abstract
Utah’s low-smoking population and high population density concentrated in mountain valleys, with intermittent industrial activity and frequent temperature inversions, have yielded unique opportunities to study air pollution. These studies have contributed to the understanding of the human health impacts of air pollution. The [...] Read more.
Utah’s low-smoking population and high population density concentrated in mountain valleys, with intermittent industrial activity and frequent temperature inversions, have yielded unique opportunities to study air pollution. These studies have contributed to the understanding of the human health impacts of air pollution. The populated mountain valleys of Utah experience considerable variability in concentrations of ambient air pollution because of local emission sources that change over time and episodic atmospheric conditions that result in elevated concentrations of air pollution. Evidence from Utah studies indicates that air pollution, especially combustion-related fine particulate matter air pollution and ozone, contributes to various adverse health outcomes, including respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and increased risk of lung cancer. The evidence suggests that air pollution may also contribute to risk of pre-term birth, pregnancy loss, school absences, and other adverse health outcomes. Full article
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