Assessment of mobile source contributions in El Paso by PMF receptor modeling coupled with wind direction analysis
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It is well-known that El Paso is the only border area in Texas that has violated national air quality standards. Mobile source emissions (including vehicle exhaust) contribute significantly to air pollution, along with other sources including industrial, residential, and cross-border. This study aims at separating unobserved vehicle emissions from air-pollution mixtures indicated by ambient air quality data. The level of contributions from vehicle emissions to air pollution cannot be determined by simply comparing ambient air quality data with traffic levels because of the various other contributors to overall air pollution. To estimate contributions from vehicle emissions, researchers employed advanced multivariate receptor modeling called positive matrix factorization (PMF) to analyze hydrocarbon data consisting of hourly concentrations measured from the Chamizal air pollution monitoring station in El Paso. The analysis of hydrocarbon data collected at the Chamizal site in 2008 showed that approximately 25% of measured Total Non-Methane Hydrocarbons (TNMHC) was apportioned to motor vehicle exhaust. Using wind direction analysis, researchers also showed that the motor vehicle exhaust contributions to hydrocarbons were significantly higher when winds blow from the south (Mexico) than those when winds blow from other directions. The results from this research can be used to improve understanding source apportionment of pollutants measured in El Paso and can also potentially inform transportation planning strategies aimed at reducing emissions across the region.
author list (cited authors)
Park, E. S., Sullivan, D. W., Kang, D. H., Ying, Q. i., & Spiegelman, C. H.