Category Archives: Air Quality

Air District launches new air monitoring station in Benicia

[BenIndy: This information is at the bottom of the release, but it’s worth repeating top and center. You can view data from the Benicia-Fitzgerald air monitoring station (BFAMS) on the Air District website by Air Quality Index level and by pollutant concentration level. If you go to those pages, scroll down to the “Eastern Zone” section to check on BFAMS’s data. More info on the effort to expand air monitoring in communities near refineries can be found here. A brief BenIndy overview of the site with screenshots follow this release. To be totally transparent, the BenIndy has unilaterally assigned the station acronym of BFAMS  as it’s currently unclear if there’s an official acronym.]

July 18, 2024, 10:01 AM

SAN FRANCISCO – The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is announcing a new air monitoring station in Benicia as part of the agency’s efforts to establish or expand air monitoring stations in areas where large sources of pollution may contribute to localized pollution sources that are not captured by the Air District’s existing network.

The additional data generated by community monitors, like the Benicia air monitoring station, will provide refinery frontline communities with real-time, local-scale air pollution data, reflecting day-to-day cumulative air pollution levels. This data also supports analysis of air quality trends and other air quality assessments.

“This new, state-of-the-art air monitoring station in Benicia is a major step forward in assessing and addressing refinery emissions in a community impacted by those emissions” said Dr. Philip Fine, executive officer of the Air District. “The station will provide crucial data to better respond to incidents and to inform our plans to better protect residents. It is one of many tools the Air District is employing to improve air quality in communities near large pollution sources such as refineries.”

“This new Benicia air monitoring station is a vital addition to our community, providing us with the detailed, real-time data needed to understand and address our air quality concerns,” said Steve Young, Benicia mayor and member of the Air District Board of Directors. “It’s a step in the right direction for ensuring the health and safety of Benicia’s residents.”

The Air District is prioritizing communities with petroleum refineries and large renewable fuels manufacturing facilities, such as Benicia. The new station, the Benicia-Fitzgerald air monitoring station, is located near East 2nd and East J Street in Benicia.

The Benicia-Fitzgerald air monitoring station provides real-time data on the following pollutants: particulate matter, or PM2.5, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and black carbon.

While the Air District operates numerous ambient air monitoring stations across the Bay Area, the data from those stations does not reflect pollutant concentrations in every neighborhood. In addition, exposure to pollution varies from place to place and some communities near large industrial facilities bear a disproportionate burden from emissions or other forms of air pollution.

Data from the Benicia-Fitzgerald air monitoring station can be viewed on the Air District website by Air Quality Index level and by pollutant concentration level. More info on the effort to expand air monitoring in communities near refineries can be found here.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is the regional agency responsible for protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area. Connect with the Air District via X/Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


Notes on BFAMS from BenIndy:

So what does this new beast look like? Let’s take a look. The following screenshots were taken around 7 pm on July 18, 2024. They are here for illustrative purposes only.

 

  • This screenshot from BAAQMD’s Air Quality Data webpage shows the Benicia-Fitzgerald Air Monitoring Station’s (BFAMS) readings of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), helpfully indicating elevated levels with yellow.

 

  • Users can click the Pollutants button to toggle the display to check on other pollutants.

 

  • The pollutants BFAMS is monitoring include Ozone, Fine Particulate Matter, High Conditions, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, and Sulfur Dioxide. Clicking the pollutant you are interested in will change the display to show those readouts specifically.

 

  • Per BAAQMD’s explainers, “High Conditions displays the highest overall AQI value estimate for each hour, and in the right-hand column the highest AQI for the day, which will usually be for ozone in the summertime and PM2.5 in the wintertime.”

This is a wonderful tool for a refinery town.

Reminder! Zoom in tonight at 7pm for an Air District panel on refinery violations and ‘community payback’

[Note from BenIndy: A quick reminder, shortened a bit from the first posting. This meeting is free and open to all, regardless of Party preference or city of residence. This should be a fascinating discussion.]

Smoke from the Valero Benicia refinery wafts over residential neighborhoods  during a 2017 incident. | Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

From Progressive Dems of Benicia Meeting Notice, sent April 2, 2024:

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), or “the Air District,” is our local regulatory agency when it comes to air pollution.  It’s been around for decades, but its mission and activities are a mystery to many.  Luckily, our amazing panel of Air District representatives will be on hand to guide us through what it does, how it does it, and what it’s working on to keep Bay Area residents healthy and safe.

Air District Panel

We are pleased to share that our panel will include BAAQMD’s Executive Officer/Air Pollution Control Officer, Dr. Philip Fine, formerly a presidential appointment to the EPA and the South Coast Air Management Quality District; Deputy Executive Officer of Public Affairs; BAAQMD Board of Directors member and Benicia Mayor Steve Young; and BAAQMD’s Community Advisory Council Co-Chair Ken Szutu, who also founded the  Citizen Air Monitoring Network in Vallejo before serving as its director.  We also expect that other staff members of the Air District will join us.

Zoom Details

Topic: PDB General Meeting
Time: April 9, 2024 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86273821941?pwd=WktDazJLaTJHVTBPNWd3dzlXaGd2Zz09
Meeting ID: 862 7382 1941
Passcode: 528756

 

One tap mobile
+16699006833,,86273821941#,,,,*528756# US (San Jose)
+16694449171,,86273821941#,,,,*528756# US

For more information, check out the Progressive Democrats of Benicia’s website.

Benicia Dems hosting Tues., Apr. 9 Air District Zoom panel on refinery violations and ‘community payback’

[Note from BenIndy: This is a fantastic opportunity to learn from Air District insiders what the District does, how it does it, and what might be next. This is a free public meeting open to all, regardless of party preference or city of residence.]

Smoke from the Valero Benicia refinery wafts over residential neighborhoods  during a 2017 incident. | Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

From Progressive Dems of Benicia Meeting Notice, sent April 2, 2024:

Dear members and supporters—

We’re delighted to share more information about our April 9th meeting at 7pm, which we revealed last week will focus on the quality of our air – a hot topic given the warming weather and the recent Level-3 Incident at a local refinery. (The picture here is not from that incident, it is from a 2017 incident; click the image to be redirected to a YouTube news report.) 

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), or “the Air District,” is our local regulatory agency when it comes to air pollution.  It’s been around for decades, but its mission and activities are a mystery to many.  Luckily, our amazing panel of Air District representatives will be on hand to guide us through what it does, how it does it, and what it’s working on to keep Bay Area residents healthy and safe.

Air District Panel

We are pleased to share that our panel will include BAAQMD’s Executive Officer/Air Pollution Control Officer, Dr. Philip Fine, formerly a presidential appointment to the EPA and the South Coast Air Management Quality District; Deputy Executive Officer of Public Affairs Viet Tran; BAAQMD Board of Directors member and Benicia Mayor Steve Young; and BAAQMD’s Community Advisory Council Co-Chair Ken Szutu, who also founded the  Citizen Air Monitoring Network in Vallejo before serving as its director.  We also expect that other staff members of the Air District will join us.

Zoom Details

Topic: PDB General Meeting
Time: April 9, 2024 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86273821941?pwd=WktDazJLaTJHVTBPNWd3dzlXaGd2Zz09
Meeting ID: 862 7382 1941
Passcode: 528756

 

One tap mobile
+16699006833,,86273821941#,,,,*528756# US (San Jose)
+16694449171,,86273821941#,,,,*528756# US

For more information, check out the Progressive Democrats of Benicia’s website.

This replicable model for urban air quality management is a breath of fresh air

The future of clean air is collaborative 

 

Comprehensive urban air quality management sometimes feels like pipe dream, but what if we’re closer than we give ourselves credit for?  What if stakeholders – from communities, regulators, and analysts to tech and industry ‘partners’ – have already deployed a collaborative model for accurate air quality management that could deliver “democratized, hyperlocal air quality data” and ultimately help us improve the air we breathe?

Clarity, a climate-tech startup founded by a Berkeley grad, is marketing a new vision  for air quality monitoring. Using both existing and supplemental air monitor networks to provide all those stakeholders listed above with “real-time air quality data at a higher resolution,” its goal is to “[make] air quality management more accessible, cost-effective, and actionable than ever before.”

The fascinating mini-documentary above shows how London deployed over 400 “Clarity Node-S sensors” to provide “hyperlocal insights” to their population of 8.8 million. Apparently, Clarity is active in 60 cities worldwide, including Los Angeles, Perth and Singapore.

And, get this – in August 2022, the Los Angeles Unified School District installed these sensors at 200 school locations across their 710 square-mile footprint, “providing students, parents, teachers and the community with important real-time data about their local air quality.”

It’s a beautiful, well-marketed vision, and hopefully a peek into a future where communities like ours can access – and act on! – real-time insights on air quality  . . .  instead of relying on a plodding, recalcitrant, polluting industry to provide that data in a clear, reasonable and timely way.

Check out the video, it came recommended by a trusted resource. To be clear, we have received no compensation for posting about this, nor did we coordinate with Clarity in any way. This is just cool news worth sharing.