EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) — Two universities have teamed up and sent scientists to the East Palestine area to test air quality.
Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon University are using a mobile lab to conduct tests independent of Norfolk Southern and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The lab is currently in East Palestine mapping air pollution after the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern train derailment.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have been studying how air pollution varies from different neighborhoods for the last decade using a mobile lab like the one they’ve brought to East Palestine.
“We’ve deployed this lab in Pittsburgh, in Oakland, California, and in Baltimore to map air pollution in different cities,” says Albert Presto, research professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
“Now that a bunch of that material has dumped onto the ground or into the water, [it] could remit from the ground whenever the temperature changes or whenever it’s windy or something like that,” Presto says.
Presto specializes in air quality and atmospheric chemistry and is the professor overseeing the air monitoring for Carnegie Mellon. Oladayo Oladeji is one of the doctoral students spearheading the testing.
Presto says the mobile lab has extremely sensitive measuring devices that can collect readings in parts per trillion in real time, which they use to plot on a map to show the distribution of pollutants.
“Some of these samples that that might be being collected by the EPA or by the railroad are sort of these integrated samples where they average over an hour. We’re getting data every single second,” Presto says.
Presto says their equipment is sensitive enough to pick up very low levels of pollutants, which might not cause immediate health effects but could cause harm over the long-term.
Their testing will continue for a few days. They plan on sharing their findings with the public as soon as they are able to analyze the data.