Purchase and Installation of New AutoGC Air Monitor in El Paso
Project Description: The TCEQ has contracted with the Center for Energy and Environmental Resources (CEER) at the University of Texas at Austin to purchase, site, install, and operate a second Automatic Gas Chromatograph (AutoGC) air monitor in El Paso, Texas (another AutoGC monitor is already in operation in the city).
An AutoGC monitor is an instrument used to separate and quantify distinct volatile organic compounds (VOC) in a complex mixture. VOCs combine with nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight to form ozone, and different VOCs come from different sources. By summer 2011 the EPA is expected to announce a revision of the national eight-hour standard for ozone concentrations in ambient air, making it stricter. The TCEQ anticipates that the new standard will place El Paso in “nonattainment” status, necessitating the development of control strategies by the agency and El Paso. Development of effective strategies will depend on accurate identification of which VOCs are prevalent. AutoGC data contribute significantly to that identification.
El Paso currently has one AutoGC located in Chamizal Park near the international Bridge of the Americas. The data collected here are valuable but dominated by mobile source contributions. VOCs from other portions of the joint El Paso–Juárez airshed (Paso del Norte) remain largely uncharacterized. This project will place the new AutoGC in a location to more broadly accomplish that objective during high ozone events.
The TCEQ expects the monitor to be in operation by mid-summer 2011 and to collect data for the remainder of the ozone season, which extends from May through October. The agency has identified funds for continued operation of the monitor in FY2012 and potentially further.