As potentially record-breaking cold air blows down from Canada threatening school cancelations, why would anyone in their right mind climb up on a rooftop?
That’s exactly what MPCA air monitoring site operators do, day in and day out. The equipment used to monitor the state’s air quality is located in all kinds of places, from urban rooftops to open fields. While most of the process is automated, drawing samples on daily, hourly or weekly intervals, site operators must still head out to collect data and service instruments — no matter the weather.
Air Quality Specialist Lad Strzok is based in the MPCA Duluth office and attests that it’s a job for the outdoor-minded. Snowstorms, cold and all weather-related challenges are part of the deal.
“Going up on these roofs can be incredibly frigid, and I often have to take off my gloves for the more delicate work,” says Strzok. However, he’ll tell you that the data collected is worth it.
The air monitoring network measures air pollution levels at over 50 locations across Minnesota, checking for things like fine particles, ozone, acid rain, mercury, and many other pollutants — more than a hundred in all. This data ensures Minnesota is meeting federal and state standards and health benchmarks. It also allows us to forecast and report daily air quality through the Air Quality Index (AQI), and to track trends in air pollution levels over time.
Learn more about how MPCA tracks air quality.