A multi-objective assessment of an air quality monitoring network using environmental, economic, and social indicators and GIS-based models
In the United States, air pollution is primarily measured by Air Quality Monitoring Networks (AQMN). These AQMNs have multiple objectives, including characterizing pollution patterns, protecting the public health, and determining compliance with air quality standards. In 2006, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a directive that air pollution agencies assess the performance of their AQMNs. Although various methods to design and assess AQMNs exist, here we demonstrate a geographic information system (GIS)-based approach that combines environmental, economic, and social indicators through the assessment of the ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM10) networks in Maricopa County, Arizona. The assessment was conducted in three phases: (1) to evaluate the performance of the existing networks, (2) to identify areas that would benefit from the addition of new monitoring stations, and (3) to recommend changes to the AQMN. A comprehensive set of indicators was created for evaluating differing aspects of the AQMNs’ objectives, and weights were applied to emphasize important indicators. Indicators were also classified according to their sustainable development goal. Our results showed that O3 was well represented in the county with some redundancy in terms of the urban monitors. The addition of weights to the indicators only had a minimal effect on the results. For O3, urban monitors had greater social scores, while rural monitors had greater environmental scores. The results did not suggest a need for adding more O3 monitoring sites. For PM10, clustered urban monitors were redundant, and weights also had a minimal effect on the results. The clustered urban monitors had overall low scores; sites near point sources had high environmental scores. Several areas were identified as needing additional PM10 monitors. This study demonstrates the usefulness of a multi-indicator approach to assess AQMNs. Network managers and planners may use this method to assess the performance of air quality monitoring networks in urban regions.
Implications:The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a directive in 2006 that air pollution agencies assess the performance of their AQMNs; as a result, we developed a GIS-based, multi-objective assessment approach that integrates environmental, economic, and social indicators, and demonstrates its use through assessing the O3 and PM10 monitoring networks in the Phoenix metropolitan area. We exhibit a method of assessing network performance and identifying areas that would benefit from new monitoring stations; also, we demonstrate the effect of adding weights to the indicators. Our study shows that using a multi-indicator approach gave detailed assessment results for the Phoenix AQMN.