ARL to Train Scientists in Mexico on Modeling Air Toxics

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation is coordinating an air toxics workshop to be held August 24-27, 2009 in Mexico City at Mexico’s National Institute for Ecology/National Environmental Research and Training Center. The goal of the workshop is to build Mexico’s capacity in air toxics modeling, with particular emphasis on mercury and polychlorinated dioxins and furans (PCDD/F). Dr. Mark Cohen,of the Air Resources Laboratory, is one of several international experts invited to provide instruction at the workshop. Dr. Cohen will give a one-day course to 20 governmental and academic modelers from Mexico on the development and application of the NOAA HYSPLIT model to simulate atmospheric mercury and PCDD/F.

Background: Historical and current gold mining activities in Mexico represent significant mercury emissions, and waste incineration has accounted for significant PCDD/F emissions. While Mexico has substantial expertise modeling atmospheric pollutants such as ozone, its expertise modeling air toxics is limited. Atmospheric modeling of these pollutants is necessary in order to determine the spatial and temporal patterns of deposition to sensitive ecosystems, as well as to attribute the deposition back to emission sources. The one-day course will utilize the extensive amount of HYSPLIT model training materials developed by Roland Draxler, Glenn Rolph and colleagues at ARL and will also include instruction on specialized versions of the model that have been developed and applied at ARL for mercury and PCDD/F.

Significance: Mercury and PCDD/F are pollutants of concern within Mexico, for North America and globally. Scientific information is needed to inform policies to reduce the effects of mercury and PCDD/F contamination in Mexico. The workshop will have substantial benefits for Mexico as well as for the United States, where mercury contamination in the Gulf of Mexico continues to be an important research and policy priority. Improved capabilities of Mexican scientists to model air toxics will result in improved understanding of the contribution that Mexico’s emission sources make to the Gulf of Mexico and other ecosystems. In addition, it is anticipated that collaboration resulting from this workshop will enhance ARL’s atmospheric mercury research at the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve on the Northern Gulf of Mexico coast, for example, through access to updated and improved Mexican mercury emissions inventory data.

For More Information, contact:

Mark Cohen