Newberry Springs
Acquires Air Monitors

Monitors to establish baseline data.

Written by Ted Stimpfel
Posted:  December 21, 2018

    Large increases of airborne carcinogen silica dust are expected to descend upon Newberry Springs from the massive utility-scale solar projects proposed for the Silver Valley.

    To monitor the silica dust, the Newberry Springs Community Alliance in early 2018 teamed with Newberry's CEQA-Now to explore monitoring options.  CEQA-Now's research recommended, acquired and installed Newberry's first low-cost PurpleAir monitor in February 2018.

    Pictured right is Newberry electrician John Wetch installing a PurpleAir in December 2018.  CEQA-Now president, Bob Berkman, observes installation.

    CEQA-Now's experience and follow-up discussions with the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD) may have encouraged the MDAQMD to acquire approximately three dozen PurpleAir Monitors to meet requirements of California's Assembly Bill 617.  The MDAQMD is scattering its limited number of units throughout its vast regional territory.  Fortunately, due to the interest shown by Newberry Springs, the community has acquired two MDAQMD PurpleAir units.

    One of the two MDAQMD PurpleAir units is installed at the Newberry CSD building on the south end of Newberry Road.  The other is located at the fire department adjacent the Newberry Springs Elementary School.

    The PurpleAir monitors are relatively low cost and do not have the calibrated accuracy of professional, high-priced monitors costing tens of thousands of dollars, however, PurpleAirs are amazingly accurate for their low price and relative precision.

    The Newberry Springs Community Alliance has been working to establish a north-south line of air quality monitors established in Newberry so that a baseline can be established prior to the placement of solar facilities upwind to the community.  Therefore, in cooperation with CEQA-Now, the NSCA has placed two additional PurpleAir units, one on Mountain View Road adjacent the former Soitec solar facility (unit named NSCA1) and one (named NSCA2) at the north end of Newberry Road.

    Together, the current 5-units provides a wall of monitor data which is instantly uploaded to a worldwide PurpleAir website which shows each PurpleAir unit.  Clicking on a monitor site on the map opens-up a separate information window for that location.  The website's data is updated every 80-seconds and the map is zoomable providing Newberrians with worldwide air quality data.

    The MDAQMD has also installed a PurpleAir monitor at the Silver Valley High School and at the Barstow Courthouse.

    In the relatively short span of 2018 when the Community Alliance first addressed the need for monitors, monitors have been erected.  One or two high-end models for Newberry are ideally needed to meet official standards.

    The greatest current need is software to package the data in a retrievable form that is understandable for long-term study and archive.

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© 2018 Ted Stimpfel.   All rights reserved.