BY: ERICA SHYMON
I am currently interning at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Air Quality, Energy, and Sustainability Department. For this internship, I work on a project in order to determine the relationship of monitored Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) levels to monitored ozone levels in NJ using ambient air quality data collected from Photochemical Assessment Monitoring Stations (PAMS). In order to do so, I will compile the monitored data for ozone, NOx, and VOCs for a specific time period (this data was already collected via PAMS and given to me). The data will then be trended and analyzed to determine if there is any correlation between each speciated VOC and NOx to ozone levels. Also, I will attempt to link any change in the monitored levels to events (such as NJ’s adoption of control measures, economic downturn, and weather related events).
On my first day as an intern, I got the tour of the office building, met with my supervisor, and started my research on the project. For the rest of the week, I mainly researched the information that was given to me, i.e. what is PAMS?, where are they located in New Jersey?, how many VOCs are there?, etc. I learned a lot of information that I was unaware of. For example, there are 56 VOCs; these VOCs react with NOx (and sunlight) to form ground-level ozone. Major sources of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons come from motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, gasoline vapors, biogenic hydrocarbon emissions, and chemical solvents. Of course, ground-level ozone creates smog and is bad for both the environment and people, so the goal of this project is to find a correlation of VOCs and NOx to ozone in order to reduce it.
During this internship, I expect to use Microsoft Excel to plot, trend and analyze the air quality data. I am excited to use Excel because I have experience in specific applications to plot and trend data. Also, since I will be using Excel for my entire internship, I hope to gain more experience using it. I am also looking forward to learning more about the Air Quality, Energy, and Sustainability department, or even better, other departments in the building.
Erica Shymon is a senior chemistry major at the University of Delaware.