New air monitoring map tracks sand mines, processing plants

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MADISON, Wis. (WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES NEWS RELEASE) -- The public can now view outdoor air monitoring data from industrial sand mines and processing plants on a new map available through the Department of Natural Resources website. The interactive map displays a facility's location and the quality-assured particulate matter data for that facility.

"We are working hard to make this data more accessible to the public," noted Bart Sponseller, director of the DNR Air Management Bureau. "It's important to reassure the public that we are reviewing the data and ensuring that there is compliance with permit requirements."

The particulate monitoring data is public record. In the past, the data could be obtained from the DNR with an open records request. The new interactive map and data on the web will get information to interested parties quicker.

Operating an outdoor air monitoring system for particulate matter may be required by rule or permit, at certain affected sources. These monitors are source-specific and are not a part of the air monitoring network maintained by DNR to measure air pollutant concentrations around the state.

To date, 740 valid PM10 (particulate matter up to 10 micrometers in size) samples from sand mines have been reported to the DNR and quality assured by DNR staff. None of the 740 reported values has been over the federal 24-hour PM10 standard (150 micrograms per cubic meter).

In addition to quality assuring the data, DNR staff work with the industrial sand facilities to provide technical assistance for any required monitor sites near the facilities. DNR field personnel also perform both start-up and annual audits of the monitoring equipment. The monitoring data collected by the industrial sand facilities is done using filter-based methods approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and analyzed at a laboratory. Data is submitted to the DNR monthly for quality assurance and compilation. Plots of the quality assured data, as well as a spreadsheet of data, will be uploaded to the new webpage approximately 60-90 days after the end of each calendar quarter.

For more information, or to view the map, click on the link on the right side of this story.

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