During these dog days of summer, Emory employees are working
to do their part to monitor—and reduce—the ozone levels
that spike the formation of smog around the Atlanta metropolitan
Emory is one of 20 sites in the Atlanta metropolitan area taking
part in a nationwide volunteer effort to monitor ozone levels, one
of the main ingredients of smog. The program is sponsored by Environmental
Defense, a national nonprofit organization, and coordinated at the
local level by the Southern Organizing Committee for Economic and
Social Justice and the Rev. Richard Bright from the Morehouse School
The purpose of the ozone-monitoring network is to collect data
that are otherwise not available at a local level, and to build
awareness of the health impacts from high ozone levels. Daily ozone
levels are available at www.environmentaldefense.org/ozone/.
At Emory, John Wegner, senior lecturer in environmental studies,
and three colleagues (Tim Bryson of Woodruff Library, Ron Foust
of the Information Technology Division and Claire Houston from Facilities
Management) take turns monitoring the ozone levels at the testing
site—a small stand in the FM parking lot.
Using a handheld monitor called a Zikua, the volunteers test specially
treated strips that are exposed to the air for one hour in the afternoon.
The badges change color in the presence of ozone (the darker the
color, the higher the ozone concentration in the air). The badge
is inserted in the Zikua, and a photo-optic sensor translates the
badge color into an electronic ozone reading. The results are then
phoned in for posting on the website.
“The volunteer effort takes a ‘citizen-science’
approach that helps to educate people about air-quality issues,”
Wegner said. “It’s a really easy thing to do and a neat
way to keep track of what’s going on with ozone in your backyard.”
But monitoring ozone isn’t the only thing the University
is doing to improve air quality. Emory, in partnership with Georgia
Power, is serving as a pilot site for the Ford Th!nk electric car
in a program funded by a U.S. Department of Energy grant through
the Georgia Environ-mental Facilities Authority. Since the program
began in April, 80 people have trained to use the vehicles, logging
nearly 2,000 hours of use.
Employees who participate in the University’s alternative
transportation program are able to “check out” these
vehicles during the workday to attend meetings and medical appointments,
or to run errands. The vehicles can cover about 50 miles with one
charge and have a top speed of 55 mph.