Air Toxics Monitoring
An air toxic is any air pollutant that is not a criteria pollutant, but may reasonably be anticipated to cause serious chronic or acute health effects in humans at certain levels. Louisville has a difficult history with air toxic pollution, most notably in the areas surrounding the Rubbertown industrial complex.
The APCD has now added equipment to monitor for air toxics at two of its air monitoring sites, 2730 Cannons Lane and 4201 Algonquin Parkway. This new technology, called an automated Gas Chromatograph (auto-GC), can collect data in near real-time on concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are a large class of compounds that have varied impacts on human health and the environment. Monitoring for air toxics is a new application of auto-GC technology and APCD staff have played a national role in the use and development of the equipment.
You can find our monthly air toxics monitoring reports on our air quality data page, and you can follow air toxics concentrations in real time on the Cannons Lane and Algonquin Parkway pages on Louisville Air Watch. The APCD has published a report titled Air Toxics Monitoring Report July 2020 - June 2021 to summarize the progress of the project and the first year of quality-assured data that was collected.
Emerging Technology with EPA
Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Regional Applied Research Effort (RARE) program, prototype next generation emissions measurement (NGEM) systems were installed to test in and around the Rubbertown industrial complex. The APCD assisted EPA in siting and operating the various technologies being tested.
The project sought to deploy, test, and evaluate the NGEM systems and to use them to understand levels of select volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the Rubbertown area. The goal was also to use the NGEM systems to learn more about the spatial impacts of industrial sources on the local community and to better understand the effects of fugitive industrial emissions and odors.
The field work completed in January 2020. Among the conclusions of the study were that the passive samplers that were deployed were useful for understanding the spatial differences in concentrations of pollutants throughout the area and identifying certain chemicals associated with specific facilities. The equipment was not useful for capturing short-term or real-time "emissions events" or very low absolute concentrations for certain pollutants and compounds.
West Louisville Air Toxics Study
Between April 2000 and April 2001, the APCD, US EPA, the Kentucky Division for Air Quality (KyDAQ), and the University of Louisville (UofL) worked with the West Jefferson County Community Task Force (WJCCTF) to conduct an air monitoring study of toxic air pollution at twelve sites in western Louisville and Jefferson County. The purpose of the study was to determine if residents were being exposed to airborne concentrations of toxic air pollutants that posed unacceptable risks to human health.
This process, referred to as the West Louisville Air Toxics Study (WLATS), found that Louisville's air had unacceptably high levels of toxic air pollutants. Following the release of the report along with studies done by EPA and others, the APCD began the process of developing a comprehensive regulatory package to address Louisville's toxic air pollution. this resulted in the creation and implementation of the Strategic Toxic Air Reduction (STAR) program.