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Riviera Beach Elementary proposed site for air quality monitor

After more than a year of uncertainly about the quality of air they’re breathing, Pasadena residents are getting a monitoring station to take definitive readings of the amount of sulfur dioxide pollution in their area.

State officials said this week Riviera Beach Elementary School on Jenkins Road is the best place to put the monitoring device. Other options, including Solley Elementary School and the Orchard Beach Volunteer Fire Department, are being weighed. The department hopes to make a final decision next week.

The monitor has already been purchased. The monitor and installation will cost about $100,000, said Maryland Department of Environment Air Director Tad Aburn. It will cost roughly $20,000 a year for staffing, maintenance and testing.

Officials hope to have the monitor in place by the end of October or early November. Once a site is selected, they will need to work out an agreement with property owners, install the monitor, test the monitor and secure the monitor.

The device itself will be the size of a small shed, roughly, Aburn said. Probes protruding from the top will draw air inside, where the readings for sulfur dioxide pollution are collected. The monitor will only measure sulfur dioxide pollution, Aburn said. The results will be placed online in real time on the department’s website, as is done for other monitors across the state.

The decision to install a monitor came after conflicting reports from federal and state officials gave residents concerns about local air quality.

In July 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled areas within a 17-mile radius of the coal-burning Herbert A. Wagner Generating Station are exposed to unhealthy levels of sulfur dioxide, a pollutant officials said contributes to respiratory problems, particularly in the young, elderly, and people with asthma problems.

The Maryland Department of Environment, however, disputed that claim, saying the agency reached its conclusion…

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