It’s difficult to measure the distance a home run covered if you know where it landed but not where it started. For the same reason officials in Knowlton want establish a baseline for air quality on Route 46 before the influx of trucks expected with the planned warehouses in White Township and Mount Bethel, Pa.
Mayor Adele Starrs said the township has requested that an air quality monitor already in place from the state Department of Environmental Protection be adapted to measure small particles associated with highway exhaust.
The monitor was originally put in place to measure air quality while coal-fired power plants in just across the Delaware River on the Pennsylvania side were operating. The plants have since been decommissioned but in an ironic twist, could become the site of future warehouses that would generate their own air-quality issues.
“Having that data is really important,” Starrs said, of the measurements that would be taken before the traffic patterns change. “We will need that as a baseline for comparison.”
While the full scope and timetable of the warehouse construction has not yet been determined, Starrs said state and county officials have estimated the projects could add as many as 15,000 vehicles to Route 46 through portions of Warren County. The same roadways currently see a daily traffic volume of between 11,000 and 14,000 vehicles, according to the Warren County Transportation Master Plan.
The microscopic particles generated by vehicle exhaust, frequently referred to as PM 2.5 because of their size, indicating the size, include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen monoxide. The particles, which measure 2.5 microns or less, can also include water vapor, mercury and unburned fuel. For comparison, there are 25,000 microns in an inch.
The monitors being requested by the township would need adjusted to be able to detect particles of that size.
Once a baseline has been established, officials would then be able to determine any changes in the amount of pollutants after highway traffic increases.