Air pollution comes from a variety of sources, including stationary sources (electrical generation plants), mobile sources (cars, buses, planes, and scooters), and natural sources (windblown dust). Multiple pollutants are emitted from these sources, many of which adversely affect air quality, and some of which are harmful to people and the environment. The BIOS Air Quality Program, established in 1987, monitors the sources and concentrations of air pollutants that may negatively impact Bermuda's air quality and the health and well-being of its residents.
Funded by the Government of Bermuda's Department of Environmental Protection, the Air Quality Program (part of the larger BIOS Environmental Quality Program) undertakes routine measurements at sites around the island (BIOS, Fort Prospect, East Broadway, and BELCO) to quantify the presence of various pollutants, including:
- Airborne particulate matter (TSP, PM10, and PM2.5);
- Toxic gases (SO2 and NOx);
- Rain and aerosol chemistry (major ions, conductivity, and pH);
- Meteorological data (e.g., wind speed and direction)
Previous work has also investigated the sources and levels of mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in air and rainfall in Bermuda. In addition to their potential environmental impacts (e.g., acid rain from SO2 and NOx), many of these pollutants can have adverse effects on human health. Continuous monitoring allows detailed analysis of pollutant concentrations and their potential sources, which aids government officials in regulatory decisionmaking.
The Air Quality Program maintains a primary field laboratory at Fort Prospect to monitor emissions from the Tynes Bay Waste Treatment Facility, home of Bermuda's municipal solid waste incinerator. The Fort Prospect field station is also host to one of the NOAA Baseline Surface Radiation Network sites, which measure solar radiation for climate research applications.