A letter to Tina Orwall: Air Quality Monitor Proposal

Hi Rep. Orwall,

Thank you for your time on the phone today.


As I said, I have a lot of experience as a consultant with the environmental monitoring and mitigation process of conventional businesses (ie. where NEPA is governed by EPA.) It has always been annoying to me that the airport (being governed by the FAA) is not subject to any of the ‘standard’ processes I take for granted in terms of either monitoring -or- mitigation opportunities. I’m looking to change that approach. There is no help coming soon from the Federal level, but Congressman Smith has given us a good blueprint for what we can achieve locally.

First: you helped -bigtime- last year with HB2315 which will be a template that expands mitigation for airports across America. If I haven’t expressed my gratitude adequately before, shame on me. You and Sen. Kaiser will improve mitigation opportunities nationally.

Routine air quality monitoring is the next obvious step towards treating Sea-Tac Airport like any other factory. You get good data and that opens up mitigation opportunities down the line. It’s so axiomatic it goes without saying in the non-aviation world. A guy in the EPA told me thirty five years ago: “If there’s no data, there’s no problem.” But at Sea-Tac Airport we never get routine, good data on the full spectrum of impacts. The Federal government simply won’t do it. But -we- can; you can, with the legislation I am proposing.

We make this data collection normative–something we -expect- to have happen just like on yer Water Bill. And then we can shop around for mitigation opportunities without the constant stress over obtaining further ‘studies’.

I believe that this proposal dovetails perfectly with what you are proposing re. Indoor Air Quality. The hardware is similar and the people (UW) know what needs to be done because they are essentially following a template already in use in other jurisdictions (see below.) This proposal in effect kills several birds with one stone… using the same hardware and team to (relatively painlessly) expand the scope of your Indoor Air Quality Study to help improve the lives of -every- resident around Sea-Tac Airport.

Below is a thumbnail proposal I have proposed to Sen. Kaiser and Rep. Johnson. This after several detailed discussions with the UW Team (Edmund, Tim and Elena) and leadership/staff of PSCleanAir.



There are two pieces of legislation we need to make this happen: Directive and Funding.

This is drastically over-simplified but the directive bill might look something like:

The State Of Washington directs PSCleanAir to conduct an annual study of air quality in the area around Sea-Tac Airport using its authority under Under RCW 70.74. To begin, PSCleanAir will contract with UWDEOHS to design this program within six months. This directive will only take effect subject to adequate funding.”

The funding proviso is, basically, to purchase a van–a mobile monitoring station, and -maybe- (it depends on the final study design) a couple of inexpensive stationary sensors. The van would be equipped with all the hardware necessary to monitor the  key aviation-related airborne pollutants. The van would remain the property of the State Of Washington. It’s primary task would be to provide the annual study provided by the Directive.


As we discussed, the system would be modeled on the mobile system used by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQM). Please see Pg 25:


This article shows how the science has moved from the ‘traditional’ (and very expensive) fixed-site systems most of us are familiar with to these mobile systems which are far less expensive and far more flexible. This is all off-the-shelf kit.

Some of the required hardware was already used by UW to do the 2018 MOV-UP study. The thing about the BAAQM system is that it is flexible enough to handle pretty much all types of local studies that PSCAA routinely conducts, eg. near-roadway (Chinatown 2017), wood-stove burning and so on.

There would be two costs:

  • The one-time initial hardware and study design (Funding Proviso): $750,000.
  • The annual study (Leglislative Directive): $50,000 – $100,000.

I look forward to your feedback on how we can improve this idea and help make it a reality.



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