By Patricia Daukantas
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which has been raging since April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico, has the potential to pollute the region’s air as well as the water. Various optical technologies are tracking air quality in the region.
For example, one miniature fiber-optic spectrometer has been set up in southern Mississippi near the Gulf coast to measure levels of benzene, toluene, sulfur dioxide and other substances. Real-time data is being posted online at http://fenceline.org/test/map.php. According to this report, Argos Scientific custom-configured the monitoring station using the spectrometer from Ocean Optics. A second Argos system is going to the University of North Alabama for future studies of Gulf-area samples.
For a more complete picture of air quality around the Gulf Coast, see the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s page at http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/air.html, which provides some actual data files. You can also get real-time ozone and particulate-matter information from http://www.airnow.gov and http://gulfcoast.airnowtech.org. None of these sites, however, really get into details about the sensors and/or spectrometers that collected these data.
So far, the air out there doesn’t look too bad. Let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse.
2010-06 June, Applied optics, Miscellaneous Optics