The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has installed three air quality sensors, like the one pictured here off of Whittier Avenue on Nov. 16, 2020, around Juneau to mention the effects of cruise ships on air quality, following an inconclusive 2019 study. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has installed three air quality sensors, like the one pictured here off of Whittier Avenue on Nov. 16, 2020, around Juneau to mention the effects of cruise ships on air quality, following an inconclusive 2019 study. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

State places air quality sensors downtown for ongoing monitoring

The program is to monitor effects of cruise ships on air quality.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is spearheading a new program with air quality sensors in downtown Juneau.

“The sensors are placed as a follow up to the pilot study DEC conducted in 2019. That study used PurpleAir low cost sensors to measure particulate matter. Our attempt to use passive sensors for SO2 (sulfur dioxide) samplers proved not to be sensitive enough to detect the short-term spikes we observed from cruise ship activity in the downtown area,” said Barbara Trost, a program manager with DEC. “The new technology provides gaseous pollutant and particulate matter information every 15 minutes, which will allow a more refined look at emissions sources impacting Juneau.”

The effects of the giant engines powering the cruise ships in the summer have long been a source of concern. This project, Trost said, will help provide more accurate data over several seasons.

[Young says he’s on road to recovery after being admitted to hospital]

“We hope to keep these sensors in the downtown Juneau area for the next few years dependent on funding. We also sent two sensors to Ketchikan, one of which is reporting as well,” Trost said. “We have three sensor pods that we are planning to deploy in other Southeast Alaska cruise ship ports next spring. The intent is to continue to collect data, while also providing real time data access to the public.”

The pods, which are affixed to light poles or utility stands, cost about $13,000 per unit, Trost said. Pods are located on Sixth Street, 10th Street, and Whittier Avenue. The data is available to the public on the DEC’s website. So far, the site shows three sensors in Juneau.

Trost said they’re going to assess the sensor’s efficacy over the winter before deciding to keep them up year round.

“We only started working with these sensors this summer and do not have experience with them in cold temperatures. We do not know how the sensors will handle icing, freezing, or high winds,” Trost said. “If the sensors either stop working all together or the data looks questionable, we will take them down.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

Meals slated for children in Juneau over Thanksgiving weekend are arrayed on tables at Thunder Mountain High School on Nov. 25, 2020. (Courtesy photo / Luke Adams)
Font of plenty: JSD readies meals for Thanksgiving holiday

Nearly three tons of food got distributed for the long weekend.

Travelers arrive at the Juneau International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, made up only about half of what the airport normally sees in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Centennial Hall, seen here on Tuesday, Nov. 24, is being used by the City and Borough of Juneau as an emergency facility during the coronavirus pandemic and will not host the annual Public Market which has taken place every weekend after Thanksgiving since 1983. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Want to buy Alaskan? Closed by pandemic, Public Market goes virtual

Normally throngs of Juneauites would be lined up around the block…

To capture the unexpected action- the unrepeatable moment- it should be instinctive.  In order to build the story you have to shoot the adjective.  In this photo the bald eagle had waited patiently for the right moment to pounce on an unsuspecting vole… the unexpected.  The best way to accomplish this is to master the art of the most difficult subject to photograph– birds in flight.  In order to do this you must learn your gear; it must become part of your muscle memory so you can concentrate on the story you are witnessing.  Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 150-600mm, shot at 600mm, ISO AUTO (1250), F6.3, 1/3200, Handheld. (Courtesy Photo / Heather Holt)
Focal Point: Great photos are just waiting in the wings

Learn to shoot the verb (and the bird).

Has it always been a police car. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Construction of the new Glory Hall, above, is going smoothly, said executive director Mariya Lovishchuk on Nov. 24, 2020. (Courtesy photo / Thor Lindstam)
Building a brighter future: New Glory Hall reaches skyward

The structure is rapidly progressing, shouldering aside inclement weather.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Tuesday, Nov. 24

The most recent state and local numbers.

Most Read