WILLIAMSPORT – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced that it has awarded a $66,081 Air Quality grant to Penn State University in Centre County to fund education and biological effects research related to ground-level ozone.
“This grant will permit Penn State scientists to continue and expand their important ozone educational and research efforts for a three year period starting July 1 and ending June 30, 2017,” DEP Air Quality Bureau Director Joyce Epps said.
The university’s educational efforts will include providing citizens information on how ozone levels cause damage to vegetation in non-urban areas of Pennsylvania. The university will use real-time and historical ozone data from DEP’s Bureau of Air Quality to assist with educational efforts at its Air Quality Learning and Demonstration Center, with specific projects and activities designed for teachers in grades K-12.
Part of the grant funds will be used to fund future research on the sensitivity of common forest and landscape plants to ground-level ozone and their use as potential bio-indicators of ozone air pollution. University scientists will expose sensitive plants to ozone under controlled conditions to determine their sensitivity to ground-level ozone, and plants will be rated as to the incidence and severity of injured foliage.
Ground-level ozone is the main ingredient in smog, and is produced when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) react with sunlight. The sources of these two pollutants include gasoline vapors, the combustion of fossil fuels, vehicle emissions and vapors from solvents like dry cleaning fluid, paint thinner and lubricating oil.
The university’s grant is being funded by the department’s Clean Air Fund, Non-Title V, which is supported by fees, fines and penalties collected by DEP.
For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us or call 717-772-3958.