Have you noticed that the sky above NYC has looked different over the past few weeks? Athenica Environmental Scientist Marissa Palmer took this photo yesterday while waiting for a 7 train. The thick haze blocking the sun and obscuring the Manhattan skyline is actually smoke and particulate matter from the west coast fires that have recently been devastating California and Oregon. The yellow and brown areas on the map show how the smoke from the wildfires has migrated eastward across the country and out into the Atlantic Ocean.
But why don’t we smell the smoke? The answer to this question is based on two factors: pressure and temperature. Air is a gas, meaning it has no fixed shape or volume, and will expand to fit whatever size container it fills. In the case of a difference in pressure, air will move from high to low pressure in an attempt to attain equilibrium – the result of this is what we call wind. At this time of the year, strong upper atmosphere winds known as the jet stream travel predominantly from west to east. In addition, cooler air is denser than warmer air, so will tend to sink. The cooler air associated with the cold front that recently passed through the city forced the warmer air upward, taking the eastward-migrating smoke with it, above the levels where we can smell it.
Athenica is always available to assist you with investigating air quality and identification of measures to address detected contamination. However, in some circumstances the air quality is strictly a function of background conditions (i.e., indoor air conditions represent regional air quality), for which there are typically only limited remedial measures.
Please contact Kenneth Wenz firstname.lastname@example.org, Senior Project Manager in our HazMat division, for more information on this issue and how it might impact your project.
We are happy to report that we have two new additions to the Athenica team. Michael Palese joined Athenica in January as an environmental scientist in the lead department and is a graduate from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies. As an environmental scientist, he is responsible for assisting the project manager in oversight of lead based paint projects. In addition, he assists in the data collection and analysis, preparation of reports, and help in the oversight and coordination of field personnel on NYCHA and DOE projects. He recently received his US/EPA risk assessor license.
BJ Blair joined Athenica in August as a Junior Environmental Engineer in the Hazmat Department and is a recent graduate from Saint Francis University with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Environmental Engineering and Mathematics. There, he gained a spectrum of knowledge including ArcGIS, AutoCAD, and standard sampling and laboratory methods. As an Environmental Engineering intern with Athenica during the summer of 2019, he was involved in conducting Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), overseeing Community Air Monitoring Programs (CAMP), overseeing subcontractors, sampling of groundwater, soil, and soil vapor, and report preparation and writing.