BY: ERICA SHYMON
During my third week as an intern at NJDEP, I continued to work on my project in order to determine the relationship of monitored ozone levels to monitored volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels. As I proceed with my project, I feel a sense of accomplishment because I am finding trends between ozone production and VOC production. However, I also feel frustrated because there is a lot more data that can be looked at, such as temperature.
During my first week, I researched some useful information. During my second week, I analyzed the PAMS data using Microsoft Excel. And during my third week, I continued to analyze the PAMS data. I trended isomers of the different VOCs as well as net production from refineries. I discovered that isomers had similar trends in their production levels and that net production from refineries correlates to the production of that VOC in the air. I had my weekly meeting with my supervisors in order to go over my findings and determine what to look at next. We determined to look at the maximum incremental reactivity (MIR) scale. They informed me that the higher the MIR value, the higher the reactivity to ozone. And so, using complex formulas in Excel, I determined the top VOCs based on their reactivity to ozone.
Also, this week I was able to sit in on a meeting that one of my supervisors had. It was interesting because she is in the Bureau of Evaluation and Planning, therefore they talked about policies related to vehicle exhaust emissions and other hazardous materials released into the air. I was able to learn how these policies are implemented. My advice for other students who are interested in pursuing an internship like this is to always try new things. Before this internship I was only interested in the data analysis, but after that meeting I realized that I am also interested in the planning aspect of environmental chemistry.
Erica Shymon is a senior chemistry major at the University of Delaware.