Air Quality 101

Assessing air quality

For both criteria pollutants and air toxics, DEQ takes samples of the air and analyzes them in its lab to understand air concentrations.

  • Monitoring lets us know about compliance with federal standards and air toxics clean air goals.
  • We have air monitoring sites distributed across the state. Some monitors are for single pollutants and others monitor multiple pollutants.

This map shows and explains the different types of air quality monitoring in Oregon.

  • DEQ operates annual sites to monitor year-round primarily for particulates like smoke, soot; and smog (ozone); and some air toxics sites.
  • DEQ monitors for pollutants that peak in the summer, such as ozone and particulate from forest fires and agricultural burning.

Air toxics monitoring is key to understanding emissions and potential health impacts, and in many ways is an evolving science.

The technologies to monitor are improving and tools like moss screening will help DEQ to place monitors statewide in the future.

DEQ operates various monitors to sample for the full spectrum of air toxics. In response to local concerns, there are monitors to measure specific pollutants like metals or naphthalene.

Monitoring informs communities about pollutant levels that could cause problems for people’s health, during forest fires and days when stagnant conditions allow pollution to build up and wood burning is not advised.