During the 2013-2014 school year, a research study to analyze air quality in Delta County was begun by the University of Colorado at Boulder, Western Slope Conservation Center, Delta County high schools and the Delta County Public Health and Environment. North Fork Valley participants in the study were students from Paonia and Hotchkiss High schools, Delicious Orchards and Desert Weyr.
Other monitoring pods were placed in Delta and Cedaredge. Once a month engineers from the University of Colorado returned to gather the air quality statistics.
However, in July another study on the Front Range took priority and the monitoring pods in Delta County were retrieved by the University of Colorado.
Ashley Collier, CU graduate research assistant, stated that eight pods were taken from Delta County with one left on the roof at Paonia High School and one at the Delta County Health Department.
The pods were used for the Front Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Experiment (FRAPPE) by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. Their partners in this study include NASA, the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The study also had participants from the EPA, Cambridge University, the University of California in Berkeley and Penn State.
The study was to analyze summer ozone levels. The Front Range has run into difficulty being in compliance with federal ozone standards. The ozone levels have been too high in the summer. The study utilized 20 monitoring sites on the ground and more instrumentation in an airplane flown over the Front Range. The research should explain the factors causing the high ozone levels and enable the participants to come up with solutions.
The study on the Front Range was for just one intensive month with many instruments. The study will end Aug. 16. The length of time for the study was short because of needing to study the ozone specifically in the summer and because the plane was expensive.
Collier said, that when the post study calibrations are completed, which will take a couple of weeks, she will bring the monitoring pods back to Delta County. Her next visit will be at the start of September, so the students will resume their work on the local study this fall.
Originally scheduled to complete the study in December, because of new funding, the local study will now be done throughout the entire 2014-2015 school year.
Collier and Sarah Sauter, executive director of the Western Slope Conservation Center, will work together on assessing the data that is locally collected. The information will be compiled in a document or website for the public.