National environmental regulations lack short-term standards for variability in fine particulate matter (PM2.5); they depend solely on concentration-based standards. Twenty-five years of research has linked short-term PM2.5, that is, increases of at least 10 μg/m3 that can occur in-between regulatory readings, to increased mortality. Even as new technologies have emerged that could readily monitor short-term PM2.5, such as real-time monitoring and mobile monitoring, their primary application has been for research, not for air quality management. The Gulf oil spill offers a strategic setting in which regulatory monitoring, computer modeling, and stationary monitoring could be directly compared to mobile monitoring. Mobile monitoring was found to best capture the variability of PM2.5 during the disaster. The research also found that each short-term increase (≥10 μg/m3) in fine particulate matter was associated with a statistically significant increase of 0.105 deaths (p < 0.001) in people aged 65 and over, which represents a 0.32% increase. This research contributes to understanding the effects of PM2.5 on mortality during a disaster and provides justification for environmental managers to monitor PM2.5 variability, not only hourly averages of PM2.5 concentration.
Nance, Earthea, "Monitoring air pollution variability during disasters" (2021). Faculty Publications. 26.