USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
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Secondary pollutant formation in the Lake Tahoe Basin

Proposal [pdf]

Lead Researchers:

Barbara Zielinska, Desert Research Institute
Alan Gertler, Desert Research Institute
Andrzej Bytnerowicz, USDA Forest Service-Pacific Southwest Research Station
Wendy Goliff, Center for Environmental Research & Technology, University of California, Riverside
Chad Praul, Environmental Incentives, LLC


The proposed study will characterize the precursors and pathways of secondary pollutant formation, including ozone (O3), secondary organic aerosol (SOA) and ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) in the Lake Tahoe Basin. We will select a network of four strategic sampling sites inside the basin to collect samples for detailed speciation of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and carbonyl compounds and measure concentrations of ammonia (NH3), nitrous acid (HONO), nitric acid (HNO3), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and fine particulate NH4NO3 and ammonium sulfate ((NH4)2SO4) with a resolution of several hours. We will also collect particulate matter (PM) 2.5 filter samples and continuously measure PM, O3 and nitrogen oxide (NO/NO2) concentrations. These data will be used for development of an air quality model to predict O3 and other secondary pollutants formation in the basin. The expected results from this proposed study will provide tools for evaluation of the present and future potential of O3, SOA and NH4NO3 formation as well as for interfacing with basin managers to support the development of science-based management strategies aimed at improving air quality and ecological sustainability of the Lake Tahoe Basin. In particular, the results of this study will be used to inform stakeholders which emissions should be more strictly regulated in order to attain air quality standards and reduce Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollutants delivered via the atmospheric deposition source category.

Relation to Other Research Including SNPLMA Science Projects

This research is a logical continuation of previous efforts including the SNPLMA Round 7 project , "Lake Tahoe source attribution study: receptor modeling study to determine the sources of observed ambient particulate matter in the Lake Tahoe Basin," and the SNPLMA Round 10 project, "Particulate emissions from biomass burning: quantification of the contributions from residential wood combustion, forest fires, and prescribed fires." These efforts focus on understanding air quality and its effects on the human health-based national and state air pollution standards, and also on potential ecological impacts of air pollution and atmospheric deposition in the Lake Tahoe Basin. This research will be overseen by PSW researchers as part of a multi-institution team, most of who are currently involved in the current SNPLMA Round 10-funded study, "Distribution of ozone, ozone precursors and gaseous components of atmospheric nitrogen deposition in the Lake Tahoe Basin." A key aspect of this work will be interfacing with basin managers to communicate the findings in order to aid with the development of strategies to reduce the levels of pollutants leading to reduced air quality, visibility and water quality.

Expected date of final products:

January 2015

Last Modified: Aug 29, 2016 09:49:33 AM