Public Lab Research note

Previous use of the MiniVol in preventing the spread of Cancer Alley

by eustatic | June 11, 2020 23:08 11 Jun 23:08 | #23821 | #23821

eustatic was awarded the Watchdog Barnstar by amocorro for their work in this research note.

Working with Global Community Monitor, HealthyGulf (nee GRN), Louisiana Environmental Action Network, and Sierra Club enabled residents to prove that their complaints about air quality in Plaquemines Parish had merit. This work was part of the Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition with Public Citizen in Texas.

HealthyGulf was discussing with residents why a proposed coal terminal would have severe impacts to coastal wetlands necessary for Louisiana's survival.

Residents responded with complaints about the dust from existing coal terminals and grain terminals along HWY 23 and the Mississippi River.

Rather than use the Bucket, it was determined that the MiniVol sampler would be an appropriate tool.

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GCM, HealthyGulf, and SierraClub training on the MiniVol PM sampler in Plaquemines Parish

We worked together to devise a sampling plan.

Eventually, a press release with the data got a hit in the regional press. Here's what was reported.

Plaquemines air testing finds potential health concerns near coal terminals Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, JAN 17, 2014



Testing results show that air near the International Marine Terminal in Port Sulphur showed signs of elevated fine particulate matter, known as PM-10, that could potentially cause health concerns to sensitive people if there was long-term exposure.

During one 24-hour period in September, PM-10 levels of 30.1 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug/m3) were monitored.

The World Health Organization states that PM-10 levels of more than 20 ug/m3 are unhealthy, with one World Health Organization study in 2006 stating that 13 Italian cities averaged 8,220 deaths a year because of average PM-10 concentrations above 20 ug/m3.

Still, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets the national annual air quality standard for PM-10 at 50 ug/m3 and the daily concentration at 150 µg/m3, so the peaks in Plaquemines' air quality measured in the fall of 2013 did not rise above national standards.

But various environmental group workers said the results show that additional coal terminals in the community should not be considered.**


Here's an example data collection sheet

And a chain of custody sheet for the sample disks

Company representatives reset the MiniVol while it was taking samples. They came up on the porch, trespassing to confound the sensor. Installation of these monitors should keep the personal security of residents in mind. Nevertheless, they couldn't stop most of the effort.

In particular, legal resources to keep company representatives off private property are not equally distributed.

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HealthyGulf / Sierra Club deployment of the MiniVol in Plaquemines. IMT Coal Terminal is on the horizon, note the MiniVol mounted on the residents' porch.

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Easter 2013, International Marine Terminal

Although residents were highly aware of the pollution, it took quantified, professional sampling for agencies to take the pollution seriously. Agency heads called and demanded to see all of our data, even after we had published everything in the regional paper. More white communities up the river began to see the issues that coastal residents were struggling with.

Thanks to Plaquemines residents and Global Community Monitor for keeping the air clean in District 7, and throughout the Westbank.


@eustatic, would you be interested in chatting with me about this project? it would be awesome to do a quick write-up of the minivol vs. bucket, how they're different, and when you might choose to use one or the other.

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

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@amocorro awards a barnstar to eustatic for their awesome contribution!

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