The Allegheny County Board of Health on Wednesday approved spending $860,000 on a three-year study of diesel emissions in Downtown Pittsburgh.
The study, which will be conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, will use 40 battery-operated multi-pollutant monitors strapped to phone and light poles at strategic locations along Downtown streets, said Jim Thompson, the Health Department's Air Program manager.
He said the goal of the "saturation monitor" study is to identify where and when diesel emissions are highest and the sources of the emissions, which can come from buses, construction equipment, railroad engines and towboats on the rivers.
"Our efforts to control diesel emissions have been scattered and this study will help guide us in the future to take the emissions control steps that are most effective," said Mr. Thompson.
The study will begin in January under the leadership of Jane Clougherty, an assistant professor in Pitt's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, who did a similar saturation monitor study in New York City, and Allen Robinson, a CMU professor in the departments of Engineering and Public Policy and Mechanical Engineering. Mr. Robinson did an air pollution study for the Health Department in 2008 that found diesel exhaust Downtown carried a significant cancer risk.
Funding for the new study will come from the county's Clean Air Fund, which has a balance of about $10 million, all of it collected from companies as a result of air pollution violations.