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Review of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy's Research Plan for Fine Particulates Executive Summary The first national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM), established in 1971, targeted total suspended particulate mass per unit volume of air, without regard to chemical composition of the particles. In 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised the standard to apply only to particles of 10 micrometers (μm) aerodynamic diameter or less (PM10), without regard to chemical composition. The revision was based on the finding that particles with diameters greater than 10 μm are less likely to be inhaled into the lung than smaller particles. In July 1997, the EPA revised the NAAQS to include ambient fine particulate matter, that is, particles with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 μm or less (PM2.5), again without regard to chemical composition. To meet the ambient concentration levels selected for the standard would require that many different sources of PM reduce their emissions that contribute to either primary (directly emitted) or secondary (formed in the atmosphere from precursor emissions) ambient PM concentrations, especially in the urban areas of the eastern United States where many coal-fired power plants are located. In April 1999, the EPA issued regulations for regional haze that focus on the impact of PM2.5 on visibility in Class I ("pristine") areas of the United States. The major components of PM2.5 in the atmosphere are nitrates, sulfates, and carbonaceous materials, which are emitted from many anthropogenic as well as natural sources. The combustion of fuels, such as coal, is one source of ambient PM. The combustion of coal to generate electricity produces both primary PM2.5 (e.g., fly ash, carbon soot, acid mist) and the gaseous precursors (e.g., sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen [NOx]) that lead to the formation of secondary fine particles (principally sulfates and nitrates) in the atmosphere. In 1996-1997, coal-fired power plants emitted about 60 percent of the total U.S. sulfur dioxide and 25 percent of the NOx emissions (the gaseous precursors to secondary PM2.5) but less than 1 percent of the total primary PM10 emissions. However, because of recent modifications to emission-control systems, uncertainties remain about the linkages between coal-fired power plant emissions and the concentration and composition of ambient PM2.5. Congressional appropriations for fiscal year 1998 called for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy (DOE-FE) to initiate a research program to address key technical and scientific issues related to the potential impact of the new PM2.5 standard on coal-based power systems. In response to this directive, the DOE-FE and DOE's Federal Energy Technology Center (FETC), located in Pittsburgh, developed a plan for a fine particulate research program. Also in 1998, the DOE deputy assistant secretary for coal and power systems requested that the National Research Council (NRC) review the DOE-FE research plan. The NRC appointed the Committee to Review the Office of Fossil Energy's Fine Particulate Research Plan to conduct the study. The results can be found in this report. DOE-FE'S FINE PARTICULATE RESEARCH PLAN The stated overall goal of the DOE-FE fine particulate research plan is: to ensure that the best science and technology are available for any regulatory decision-making related to the health and environmental impacts of ambient fine particulate matter and regional haze. This goal will be achieved through a well-focused, highly leveraged
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Review of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy's Research Plan for Fine Particulates research program that includes ambient air quality monitoring and sample analysis, atmospheric chemistry and pollutant formation and transport studies, source emissions characterization, and cost-effective control technology development. Where opportunities for synergism exist, the program may also address other ambient air quality issues, such as ground level ozone and mercury, and the impact of fine particulate matter on climate change. Many ongoing health studies are attempting to define the pollutants or components of PM that have the most significant health effects and to define biological mechanisms to establish causality. In keeping with DOE's mission, the DOE-FE program does not have a health-science component, although the data collected by DOE could be of value for epidemiological and exposure studies conducted by others. The DOE-FE measurement program will also provide data on the origins of regional haze in the eastern United States (e.g., Great Smoky Mountains National Park) and elsewhere (e.g., Big Bend National Park). At the time of this review, the DOE-FE program did not include activities related to the other ambient air quality issues mentioned in the goal of the program, namely, ground-level ozone, mercury, and the impact of PM on climate change. In light of the limited budget and the challenging goal of ''ensur[ing] that the best science and technology are available for any regulatory decision-making related to the health and environmental impacts of ambient fine particulate matter and regional haze," DOE has made a prudent decision to limit its focus. However, DOE should also take into consideration cross-pollutant effects of DOE-FE programs. For example, reducing ambient PM2.5 may actually increase the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. If control technologies for reducing ambient PM2.5 (mainly reducing emissions of oxides of sulfur and nitrogen) are implemented, and if these technologies decrease the efficiency of coal-fired power plants to produce electricity, then power plants would produce more greenhouse gases per unit of electricity. The schedule of the fine particulate research program is correlated with EPA's PM2.5 NAAQS implementation schedule. DOE's program is designed to assist in the collection and analysis of a significant volume of data over a four-year period starting in late 1998, as well as to develop emission-control strategies and technologies. The research program is focused on three main areas: Ambient PM2.5 Sampling and Chemical Analysis. The four projects included in this area are the Upper Ohio River Valley Project (UORVP, 100 percent DOE funded), the Great Smoky Mountains National Park visibility study (26 percent DOE funded), the Aerosol Research Inhalation Epidemiology Study (ARIES) in Atlanta, Georgia (3 percent DOE funded), and a potential project at a site in Birmingham, Alabama. An ongoing study in the Birmingham area is being funded by others: a congressional mandate calls for DOE to provide $750,000 for establishing monitoring stations in the southeastern United States. These two projects could be coordinated. Characterization of Source Emissions and of Plume/Atmospheric Chemistry Studies. The three projects in this area are: (1) the collection and analysis of primary PM2.5 emissions from the McDermott Technology, Inc., Clean Environment Development Facility in Alliance, Ohio (31 percent funded by DOE); (2) the investigation of plume and atmospheric chemistry at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Cumberland Station (25 percent funded by DOE); and (3) the development of perfluorocarbon tracer technology to determine the contributions of regional air pollution sources in the United States and Mexico to regional haze in the Big Bend National Park in Texas (5 percent funded by DOE). Research and Development on Emissions-Control Technology. A program solicitation was issued by DOE in March 1999, and proposals were being evaluated by DOE at the time of the committee's review. The DOE has taken the lead and is the primary funding source for some of the projects identified in its research program. It has also adopted a strategy of partnering with other groups to take advantage of ongoing research studies and projects. Thus, DOE is taking an active leading role in some projects and a passive role in projects directed by other groups. In fact, DOE is a relatively minor partner in many projects, in some cases simply buying a seat at the table or access to the results. The committee's findings and recommendations for the research plan and program as a whole and for the UORVP, which is the main project
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Review of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy's Research Plan for Fine Particulates funded by DOE, are presented below. Findings and recommendations for other program elements can be found in Chapter 3. GENERAL FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The committee recognizes that the DOE-FE fine particulate research program is only one component of a much larger national effort to generate information about the origin, formation, and control of fine particulates. Consequently, DOE-FE activities must be carefully selected, well coordinated with complementary studies by other entities, and leveraged financially. The committee also recognizes that the DOE-FE had to respond rather rapidly to congressional legislation and direction with limited resources to address a complex issue. The following comments and recommendations should reflect the difficulties DOE and FETC face and the short time they had to formulate a plan and initiate this program. General Findings General Finding 1. The DOE-FE fine particle research program has been implemented in a relatively short time under congressional mandate. The program has chosen to address its objectives by establishing a "keystone" ambient air measurement program in a region of western Pennsylvania, namely, the Upper Ohio River Valley, supplemented by other projects. General Finding 2. The DOE-FE fine particulate research program is focused on emissions from the use of coal, a major national resource, for electric power generation. In its entirety, this ambitious program has considerable merit and should produce some useful information on directions for the future. General Finding 3. The DOE-FE fine particulate research program would benefit from more long-term strategic planning (the NRC report, Research Priorities for Airborne Fine Particulate Matter provides an example of such planning). Because DOE was forced to respond rapidly to a congressional mandate and new regulations, the program is largely ad hoc and does not have a cohesive integrated strategy. DOE has attempted to take advantage of available opportunities by adopting the approaches of others and has not focused sharply enough on key issues, such as source-receptor relationships. Consequently, program elements are not completely integrated into a comprehensive long-term plan. Although some program elements (such as the ARIES project in Atlanta and the Cumberland project) address testable hypotheses, this is not the case for many other program elements. General Finding 4. The present budget is spread over three diverse program areas, none of which has enough resources to achieve DOE-FE's objectives. Inadequate resources will prevent key issues from being brought to timely conclusions and in some cases could limit DOE's leadership role. The committee found evidence that the program staff have taken advantage of external expertise to establish program linkages and to optimize DOE's resources. However, DOE should sharpen the focus of its projects to ensure that high priority elements are adequately funded. General Finding 5. The current DOE-FE research program does not include a quantitative means of linking sources and ambient particle composition. Intensive characterization of PM2.5 emissions (primary and secondary) by chemical composition will be necessary for quantitative analyses of contributions of various sources to ambient fine particle mass concentrations at selected receptors. Because recent and planned reductions in emissions of sulfur dioxide and NOx required by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments will change the emission profiles, updated and regionally specific emission profiles of coal-fired power plants will be critical elements for future research. It is not clear that the current program will provide updated profiles. General Finding 6. The DOE-FE fine particulate research program has relied extensively on others to initiate linkages to its program elements. Effective linkages with other groups are vital to enhancing the value of data generated by DOE studies. The committee found little evidence to indicate that the program has successfully established effective linkages with other programs and studies. General Finding 7. Although the congressional mandate called for the early development of cost-effective control technologies for PM2.5, the committee questions the wisdom of DOE using its very limited funds to pursue this objective at the present time. First, the committee sees little value in pursuing control technologies for the control of primary PM, which is not a big issue for coal-fired power plants. Second, until the
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Review of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy's Research Plan for Fine Particulates implementation of control technologies for emissions of NOx and sulfur oxides is completed, the additional work required to control secondary particulates cannot be defined. Finally, the committee is concerned that DOE's resources are not sufficient to support a meaningful contribution to the development of control technology. Therefore, it may be premature and risky for DOE to focus on next-generation technology before the technologies currently under demonstration have been fully evaluated. Until these operational demonstrations have been completed and assessed, performance targets for new designs cannot be defined. General Finding 8. Passive involvement in other projects is not an optimal way to develop a program. An active program will require additional personnel to provide the needed leadership and to oversee internal and external program elements. The program will need knowledgeable, experienced people to support the management team. General Finding 9. Current research on PM2.5 is spread among many agencies, and the coordination among the research programs by other agencies, especially EPA and other parts of DOE, has been poor. Because of limited resources, attempts at coordination have been ad hoc and sporadic. One avenue for integration of the DOE-FE program and other federal programs is FETC's participation in monthly meetings of the interagency Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources Air Quality Research Subcommittee. Successful coordination will require that all relevant agencies be proactive and allocate sufficient resources and personnel to facilitate interaction. General Recommendations General Recommendation 1. The DOE-FE should develop a five-year strategic plan for the fine particulate research program consistent with the EPA PM2.5 NAAQS implementation schedule for data collection and the development of state implementation plans. In addition to setting goals, defining metrics for program progress, establishing review processes, and budgeting resources, the following elements should be included in the plan: strategy to build on the current investment in the Upper Ohio River Valley Project and other experiments based on the experience gained in 1998-1999 time and resources for thorough analyses and interpretations of the results of current projects, with specific commitments to assess and integrate the results into a comprehensive report that could be useful for follow-on projects in the next two to three years coordination and integration of the program with studies and activities of other state and federal agencies, academia, and the private sector, including EPA's speciation and supersite sampling network, and the PM research portfolio outlined by the NRC Committee on Research Priorities for Airborne Particulate Matter scientific approaches to determining the contributions of coal-fired power plants that would enable the quantification of current contributions and predictions of changes in ambient PM2.5 concentrations after the implementation of emission controls the investigation of testable scientific hypotheses a state-of-the-art air quality model, with plume and grid capability, to improve estimates of the effects of emissions from coal-fired power plants on local and regional receptors source characterization and source apportionment using ambient monitoring data that could also be used for testing deterministic models resources (manpower and funding) consistent with objectives and schedules, prioritized activities, and contingencies to adapt to changing congressional appropriations significant input from stakeholders (including academic communities, research organizations, industry, the health-effects research community, states, environmental groups, and the Environmental Protection Agency) to establish linkages, increase the program's visibility, value, and impact, and develop specific mechanisms for coordinating and disseminating the research on fine particulates among all stakeholders a program-wide technical advisory committee to review all stages of the program performance specifications for next-generation control technologies based on an assessment of the demonstrated capabilities of current technologies to control PM2.5 emissions and the strategies adopted by the electric utilities to meet the requirements for reducing sulfur dioxide and NOx in the next few years General Recommendation 2. Sufficient resources should be allocated to high priority items over a
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Review of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy's Research Plan for Fine Particulates five-year planning horizon to support the in-depth research necessary to meet the goals of the DOE-FE fine particulate research plan. General Recommendation 3. Expertise to supplement the FETC staff should be formally included in the planning and execution of the program to ensure that the program will yield credible conclusions about the effects of coal-fired power-plant emissions on ambient PM2.5 concentrations and the options for reducing them. UPPER OHIO RIVER VALLEY PROJECT The DOE-FE fine particulate research program includes monitoring sites designed to obtain data on the relationship between emissions from coal-fired power plants and other major point and nonpoint sources and ambient PM2.5, regional haze, and human exposure. The largest portion of DOE's program is devoted to the UORVP. At present, DOE is the sole sponsor of the project and has developed and overseen this project. The purpose of the project is to provide reliable data that can be used for (1) characterization of ambient PM2.5 chemistry; (2) source apportionment (i.e., source-receptor modeling); (3) the development of management strategies (e.g., for state implementation plans); (4) evaluation of the federal reference method (FRM) for fine particulate measurements; and (5) support for human exposure/health-related studies. Findings Finding 1. The paired urban-rural UORVP sites in the Pittsburgh area have many of the characteristics of an EPA supersite. They also have the capability of providing additional measurements to augment data taken at the supersites that would help characterize PM2.5. The observations collected from these sites should significantly enhance knowledge of urban and rural PM2.5 chemistry in this geographic area. A coordinated effort by DOE and other federal and state agencies at the UORVP sites could result in the collection of more comprehensive data than any one group could collect independently. Finding 2. To ensure that the data collected are comparable and credible, and that they meet the goals of the project, oversight of the internal quality control process, as well as an external audit program, will be absolutely necessary. The committee's review of the current practices in the UORVP did not indicate that either of these elements was in place. This deficiency could compromise the value of this project. Finding 3. The data alone will not be sufficient to achieve program objectives, except for the FRM evaluation and general characterization of PM2.5 properties in the Pittsburgh area. The data will be of limited value for source apportionment unless estimates of source-receptor relationships are based on credible source profile chemistry. Finding 4. The current ambient sampling program will indicate the characteristics of ambient PM2.5 mass concentrations in the Pittsburgh area in the presence of reactive gases. However, no health effects or exposure studies are planned for the Pittsburgh area that will use the UORVP data set. Direct comparisons of data would require that exposure studies be conducted contemporaneously with the UORVP data collection. Using the data for short-term epidemiological studies or for episode characterizations would require daily sampling (or even short-term sampling every few hours). These changes would substantially increase the value of the data but would require additional resources. Finding 5. A plan for data analysis is critical. The goals of the UORVP will be met only if one or more experienced investigators lead the analysis and interpretation of the data and if adequate resources are provided. The value of the data would be enhanced if a group of stake-holders were involved at this stage to work with DOE and its contractors to define data needs and to analyze and interpret the resulting data. Recommendations Recommendation 1. By working with stakeholders, the Upper Ohio River Valley Project (UORVP) would support productive research, scientific interaction, and data collection, similar to those planned and under way at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supersites. The UORVP linkage with the North American Research Strategy for Tropospheric Ozone (NARSTO) group should be exploited as much as possible to involve a broad community of researchers in the project. Broad-based involvement in the project, possibly through the participation of NARSTO science teams, could increase support and utilization of the program. The program should work with EPA and the states to co-locate an EPA supersite or speciation site at one or more sampling sites in the study area.
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Review of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy's Research Plan for Fine Particulates Recommendation 2. A quality control/quality assurance program should be defined, reviewed, approved, and implemented. This program should include internal quality control oversight, an external audit, and targets for data-loss rate. The DOE-FE should consider using consultants to provide advice, technical expertise, and oversight. DOE should also develop a detailed description of procedures for collecting, transporting, and analyzing all samples. Recommendation 3. The external advisory group for the Upper Ohio River Valley Project should be more actively involved in program development. Regular discussions and workshops should be held to address elements of the project and encourage scientists to make use of the data. Recommendation 4. Current emissions inventories, source profiles, and data on emissions chemistry should be reviewed for their applicability to the project. DOE should make a commitment to obtaining source profile data for key sources that have the potential to influence the air quality in the Pittsburgh area, including selected coal-fired power plants, transportation sources, and large coking or manufacturing facilities. Recommendation 5. To improve the data on ambient mass concentrations, particle size distributions (including ultrafine particles [less than 0.1 μm aerodynamic diameter]) should be measured, perhaps using portable units that can be moved from site to site. Recommendation 6. The program should encourage other investigators or institutions to undertake studies to determine the value of using monitoring data of ambient air quality as a surrogate for personal exposure in epidemiological studies. The program should also encourage others to initiate concommitant health studies that might benefit from data collected by the program. Recommendation 7. The DOE-FE should reevaluate the project design features, such as the frequency of sampling, based on the experience from the Aerosol Research Inhalation Epidemiology Study (ARIES) in Atlanta to ensure that the data collected meet the needs of contemporaneous or future epidemiological and exposure studies.
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