The Owens Dry Lake is the largest single source of PM-10 in the United States and PM-10 has been recognized by the EPA as being very harmful to humans. The Fort Independence Indian Reservation is located just 21 miles north of the Owens Dry Lake in and area authorized by the USEPA as a “serious non-attainment area” for PM-10. Our Air Quality Program uses sophisticated equipment to continuously measure the amounts of PM-10 in the air that flow on to the Reservation from the Owens Dry Lake. This equipment is called a TEOM 1400a. The Air Program follows strict EPA guidelines through its Quality Assurance Project Plan for the operation of the TEOM monitor and all PM-10 data is uploaded to the EPA’s national database on hazardous chemicals. If PM-10 levels exceed government standards, the Air Program will alert Tribal members through email reports as to what to do. Typically this would require both the elderly and the young to stay indoors until the alert is over.
The Fort Independence Indian Reservation Air Program has been in existence for 4 years and is funded by the USEPA. The Air Program is managed by an EPA trained, Air Quality Specialist who has been with the Tribe for 4 years.
Description of the Operation of the TEOM 1400a:
The TEOM is a gravimetric instrument that draws ambient air through an inlet at a constant flow rate of 16.76 cubic feet per minute. The TEOM 1400a then measures the particulate matter mass that is collected on a filter from that air flow. This mass is continuously weighed and that weight is calculated in micro grams per cubic meter.
Description of Particulate Matter (PM):
What is Particulate Matter?
There are things floating around in the air. Most of them, you cannot even see. They are a kind of air pollution called particles or particulate matter. In fact, particulate matter may be the air pollutant that most commonly affects people’s health.
Particles can come in almost any shape or size, and can be solid particles or liquid droplets. We divide particles into two major groups. These groups differ in many ways. One of the differences is size, we call the bigger particles PM10 and we call the smaller particles PM2.5.
BIG: The big particles are between 2.5 and 10 micrometers (from about 25 to 100 times thinner than a human hair). These particles are called PM10 (we say “P M ten”, which stands for Particulate Matter up to 10 micrometers in size). These particles cause less severe health effects.
SMALL: The small particles are smaller than 2.5 micrometers (100 times thinner than a human hair). These particles are called PM2.5 (we say “P M two point five”, as in Particulate Matter up to 2.5 micrometers in size).
The Health effects from exposure to PM-10 & Pm-2.5:
Both PM10 (big) and PM2.5 (small) particles can cause health problems; specifically respiratory health (that’s the lungs and airway). Because the PM2.5 travels deeper into the lungs AND because the PM2.5 is made up things that are more toxic (like heavy metals and cancer causing organic compounds), PM2.5 can have worse health effects than the bigger PM10.
Exposure to particulate matter leads to increased use of medication and more visits to the doctor or emergency room. Health effects include the following:
- Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath
- Aggravated asthma
- Lung damage (including decreased lung function and lifelong respiratory disease)
- Premature death in individuals with existing heart or lung diseases