Investigation of the Accuracy of EPA's Monitoring Network for Designating and Classifying Areas as Nonattainment Areas

Focus Area

Air Quality


Air Quality




Under $99k


Under 1 year

Research Idea Scope

The designation and classification of areas as nonattainment areas has significant impact on that area. It requires developing both policy and technical approaches to bring the area back into attainment. Models that are used are often being challenged as to their accuracy, an accuracy based on their ability to reproduce the concentrations measured in the ambient air. A recent EPA report suggests, however, that the monitoring network used for measuring stationary source emissions has some flaws significant enough to require changes to the process and procedures used to insure accuracy and consistency with these measurements. Although this report only covers the stationary source network, similar issues may exist for the networks used for designation and classifications of areas as being in nonattainment of the NAAQS. With the significant concerns surrounding the 2015 ozone standard, a prudent activity may be to investigate the accuracy and auditing process for this network with a special focus to see what role any inaccuracies could have on both the measured concentrations in the ambient air and in any inaccuracies that could be associated with the measurements of “background” concentrations since background concentrations already close to the ambient concentrations seem to be a major concern for some areas.

Urgency and Payoff

Since a nonattainment designation can have significant policy, technical, and financial implications for an area, and since the new ozone standard seems to have generated a significant amount of concern that new areas will be designated nonattainment, the value of undertaking this study could play a significant role in clarifying whether a nonattainment designation is accurate or not.

Suggested By

Kevin Black FHWA 410-962-2177

[email protected]