DNR's Mobile Air Monitoring Lab (MAML) stationed along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Sheboygan County. Photo courtesy Wisconsin DNR.

As a nationally recognized leader in air quality monitoring, Wisconsin is paving the way for new ozone monitoring techniques and tools; and people are watching, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

What is ozone? The ozone that naturally forms in the earth’s upper atmosphere and protects earth from the sun’s harmful UV rays is the same chemical compound that forms at ground level. However, ground level ozone can have an adverse impact on human health.

The DNR monitors for ground level ozone at 30 stationary air quality monitors throughout the state from spring through fall. Information from these monitors is updated hourly and available for the public to view here.

Enhanced ozone monitoring in Wisconsin

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, through federal rules outlined in the Clean Air Act, requires Wisconsin to have an enhanced ozone monitoring plan that makes use of more advanced technology and goes beyond basic requirements for other less impacted locations.

Wisconsin’s Enhanced Ozone Monitoring plan consists of using specialized equipment designed to provide data to help DNR experts to understand the unique chemistry behind ozone development that impacts Wisconsin, with a focus on counties along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

EOM tools

The first tool designed for EOM in Wisconsin is the Mobile Air Monitoring Lab, which spent the 2019 ozone season at two existing DNR monitoring sites; Chiwaukee in Kenosha County and Grafton in Ozaukee County. The MAML contains high tech instruments that provide extensive monitoring capabilities to understand ozone chemistry. The MAML is spending the 2020 ozone season along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Sheboygan.

In addition to MAML equipment deployments, the DNR is partnering with the University of Wisconsin, U.S. EPA, Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on the use of Pandoras, ground level instruments with the ability to measure nitrogen dioxide in the vertical column. 

“The DNR is fortunate to be able to collaborate with local ozone experts with a common goal of reducing ozone concentrations across the state,” said Gail Good, air program director, in a news release.

EOM Data

Data from DNR’s EOM, the 2017 Lake Michigan Ozone Study and historical records are studied and analyzed in support of program policy objectives.

The data gathered during the 2020 ozone season will also be used to study the impact COVID-19 Safer at Home orders have had on air quality.

Stay informed

The DNR Air Program offers a free mobile app for the public to stay informed. Users can download the WisconsinAQM app to receive air quality updates from anywhere using their mobile device. Download in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

For more information, visit DNR’s Air Quality webpage.