The U.S. EPA is using a state-of-the-art tool to detect levels of pollutants that may affect the health of residents in the United States: the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) Air Quality Assessment Division has acquired an AROMA instrument to monitor benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene(s) (BTEX), ethylene oxide (EtO), and other VOCs. This is the EPA’s third acquisition of an analyzer from Entanglement Technologies in the past two years.
The Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards operates under the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation and is dedicated to preserving and enhancing air quality in the United States. Its core responsibilities include setting and periodically reviewing national emission standards, which govern the amount of air toxics released from stationary sources. Additionally, OAQPS collaborates with state and local air agencies to monitor and control air pollution, including air toxics.
In the United States, a growing focus has been on monitoring hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), driven primarily by concerns about potential health risks linked to exposure. One challenge in monitoring HAPs such as EtO lies in the ability to detect at exceedingly low concentrations. Accurate and highly sensitive monitoring equipment is crucial for identifying HAPs at levels safe for human exposure, which is where the AROMA technology platform excels.
At Entanglement Technologies, we’ve built the next generation of high accuracy, real-time chemical analyzers designed to deliver unparalleled performance. AROMA provides parts-per-trillion detection limits of HAPs in ambient air and other complex matrices in the field or from any vehicle. AROMA instruments have undergone extensive testing and validation during real-world deployments in challenging atmospheric conditions, consistently providing high-quality data equivalent to that obtained in a laboratory setting.
We are excited about extending our partnership with the U.S. EPA and supporting their efforts to successfully identify and address current, emerging, and future air toxics issues in the U.S.
Connect with us to discuss your ambient air monitoring applications and how we can best support you.
Join us at the 2023 AWMA Air Quality Measurement Methods and Technology conference in Durham, NC from November 14 – 16th, 2023. Our Director of Sales and Business Development, Aurelie Marcotte, will be delivering two insightful presentations about our AROMA analyzers:
Entanglement Technologies will also be exhibiting at Booth #16. Please stop by throughout the conference to connect with our Inside Sales Specialist, Pedro Benavides, and Applications Scientist, Jake Margolis, to discuss your ambient air monitoring applications and learn about our high-performance VOC chemical analyzers.
Interested in scheduling some time to speak directly with our team at or outside of the conference? Contact us.
We look forward to seeing you at the conference and exploring ways to support your air quality monitoring initiatives!
As an undergraduate student at Providence College, Eric Lebel had a unique internship experience: measuring atmospheric gasses from aboard a NASA-operated DC-8 aircraft in California. After that, he was hooked on the idea of using his biochemistry background for earth science applications and would go on to obtain a PhD in Stanford, working on measuring methane emissions. Since then, his work has broadened, using his expertise to measure not only methane but also other gasses from both outdoor and indoor sources.
A senior scientist at PSE Healthy Energy, Lebel has expanded his toolkit for such measurements over time, with AROMA-VOC now part of his arsenal. Recently published work with Yannai Kashtan of Stanford and others using AROMA has shown that natural gas and propane combustion from stoves inside people’s homes raises indoor levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, above well-established health benchmarks. We spoke with Lebel about this work, public perceptions of indoor gas emissions, and next steps for his work with AROMA and beyond.
ET: For your PhD at Stanford, why did you first focus on methane?
Lebel: Methane is a greenhouse gas, 84 times stronger than carbon dioxide pound for pound over a 20-year lifespan. I started off mainly looking at methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells and then residential natural gas appliances, which are two areas where the methane emissions were relatively less characterized in California compared to other sources of methane emissions.
ET: How did that then evolve into your current work?
Lebel: When we started measuring gas stoves, we realized that we couldn’t just be measuring methane, that we had to look at other potential pollution because it was being emitted directly into someone’s home; someone is usually standing right there during the operation of the appliance. And there is no guaranteed mechanism to expel all the byproducts of combustion out of the house; an exhaust hood can help, but in many cases it is not 100% efficient, or isn’t even turned on by the user. Therefore, we started to think about other ways we could expand the research into other chemicals, including NOx [nitrogen oxides] emissions and then eventually we learned about the AROMA at Entanglement, which led to our collaboration, enabling new indoor measurements of benzene and other chemicals.
ET: You’ve been an author on two recent papers in Environmental Science and Technology that looked at gas emissions from stoves from over 100 homes, collectively, in California and Colorado. Did anything come out of that study that surprised you?
Lebel: Yes, a few things. When we started measuring the gas appliances, we found there are a lot of emissions during periods when you wouldn’t expect there to be methane emissions, like when they’re off, for example with water heaters. So in a way, it was surprising that we were finding emissions during those times. In another way, it was not surprising because of research on oil and gas infrastructure that has shown how common leaks are in the system. But for the appliances, it was also surprising that it was going undetected in terms of the smell of the gas inside homes.
In general, it is a problem that is literally close to home. It’s not just leaks in some far off distant oil field, it’s inside your home. Being able to uncover that in a systematic way was also surprising.
Lastly, although the NOx we documented from the combustion of gas in stoves was not surprising, as it had been documented in the past, it was the first time that someone had measured the emission rate from inside modern residential stoves, and the first time measuring benzene. To my knowledge, no one’s ever measured benzene directly from residential stoves. We found emissions from gas and propane stoves but much lower emissions from electric ones (and in many cases no detectable emissions at all), which showed that it was the fuel source and not the food being cooked. And that was surprising to everybody on the team.
Oftentimes, people don’t realize the gas stove inside their home is literally burning fossil fuel that’s been piped into their home thousands of miles away.
ET: How did AROMA-VOC enable the benzene measurements?
Lebel: Before AROMA, there was not a good way to show up in someone’s home and measure benzene onsite to this level of precision. Before, we would have had to take samples and ship them off to a lab or bring some really complex GC-MS to a home. But with the AROMA, we can use it directly in the home or, even better yet, leave it in the van parked in the driveway, and just run a hose inside the house. And at the end of the day, we receive data every 15 minutes from the measurements inside the home, to the same level of precision that you’d expect from a GC-MS to part per trillion [ppt] resolution. This is really key for these measurements as the OEHHA 8-hr Reference Exposure Level for benzene is about 1 part per billion.
ET: Were homeowners surprised by what you found?
Lebel: I can speak about general public perceptions I’ve noticed in previous studies on this topic: Oftentimes, people don’t realize the gas stove inside their home is literally burning fossil fuel that’s been piped into their home thousands of miles away. And it’s a similar combustion process going on inside their cars when they are driving around, albeit cleaner. So people have this impression that gas is clean and don’t realize that byproducts of combustion, like NOx, benzene, and carbon monoxide are being emitted directly into their home.
ET: After you collect data, how do you share it with communities?
Lebel: Journal articles are our main main methods of publication. But we have other means, such as through reports and blogs on our website. We talk with journalists, as well as policymakers at the state and federal level. We’ve spoken to legislative organizations, for example, in California about what the data is showing. As scientists, we want to make sure that the people responsible for making public policy are aware of and understand the latest science.
ET: What do you hope to do next with this work?
Lebel: There are a lot of potential research areas for the team at PSE, especially now that we purchased an AROMA-VOC to undertake more indoor and outdoor air quality measurements. One that’s top of mind right now is to take our research into commercial settings. We’ve done a lot of work examining residential appliances so far, but we’re really interested in understanding the risks in commercial kitchens, which employ more than 10 million restaurant workers in the United States. Some chefs prefer to cook with gas but we don’t know the effect that has on workers or restaurant patrons, so we want to design a study to test that.
For more information, please contact us.
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is partnering with Entanglement Technologies to monitor benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene(s) (BTEX), ethylene oxide, and other VOCs with AROMA. Awarded the American Rescue Plan Enhanced Air Quality Monitoring Competitive Grant, Utah DEQ will integrate and deploy AROMA in underserved communities through mobile monitoring and community partnerships with a goal to enhance VOC monitoring and to promote air quality monitoring partnerships between communities and regulatory agencies.
The American Rescue Plan was passed by Congress in spring 2021, providing EPA with a one-time supplemental appropriation of $100M to address health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic. $20M of those funds was allocated for a grant competition for community air pollution monitoring. In August 2022, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which provided additional funding to EPA for community air monitoring programs and grants allowing EPA to expand the initial award to $53.4 million to support 132 projects. Read more about the selected projects here: https://www.epa.gov/arp/selections-arp-enhanced-air-quality-monitoring-competitive-grant.
AROMA is ideally suited for mobile air quality monitoring with real-time monitoring, reporting, and part-per-trillion detection limits. The AROMA is easily transitioned from a stationary monitoring site to running in a vehicle in less than 30 minutes with no specific buildout requirements. Contact us to learn more about AROMA or to discuss your mobile monitoring and ambient air monitoring applications.
AROMA instruments are shipping across the United States, filling critical air quality monitoring needs. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) are the latest state agencies to add AROMA-TOX to their arsenal.
The Maine DEP Bureau of Air Quality (BAQ) will be using AROMA-TOX trace chemical analyzer for monitoring benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene(s) (BTEX), hydrogen cyanide (HCN), and other relevant volatile organic compounds (VOCs), with an in initial focus on hydrogen sulfide (H2S). AROMA will also be used to support monitoring for the Maine CDC Ambient Air Guidelines (AAGs).
Responsible for most of the ambient air quality monitors located in Maine, the Maine DEP BAQ has been monitoring air quality in Maine since its establishment in 1972. Maine DEP will integrate and deploy Entanglement Technologies’ AROMA-TOX as part of their air monitoring network.
In Colorado, CDPHE is acquiring two AROMA-TOX units, which have the capability to measure BTEX, H2S, HCN, ethylene oxide (EtO) and other VOCs as part of their growing Air Toxics and Ozone Precursor Section. This is the second AROMA acquisition from CDPHE: The Air Pollution Control Division has been using an AROMA-VOC analyzer that is deployed in their CAMML (Colorado Air Monitoring Mobile Laboratory) for monitoring near oil and gas operations.
Entanglement Technologies’ AROMA-TOX is a thermal desorption, cavity ring-down spectroscopy analyzer with the broadest compound coverage in the AROMA family. Equipped with an innovative dual-laser system design, it measures methane, water, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, H2S, HCN and other small molecules at part-per-billion concentrations in real time. AROMA-TOX also provides parts-per-trillion level speciated VOC data in the field in a short analysis method.
Entanglement Technologies is excited to support Maine DEP and CDPHE in their efforts to identify and control hazardous air pollutant emissions, as part of our commitment to helping organizations manage their environmental obligations. Reach out to us to discuss your application needs and to learn more about our AROMA instrument suite.
Coming soon to an environmental monitoring conference near you: Entanglement Technologies will be exhibiting and showcasing the AROMA instruments, high-performance chemical analyzers that enable the collection of accurate chemical data in the field. Come visit us at one of the following conferences this summer and fall to talk with Director of Sales and Business Development Aurelie Marcotte, and Inside Sales Specialist Pedro Benavides about how AROMA can meet your current and future environmental monitoring needs.
July 25-27, 2023 Durham, NC
Air Sensors Quality Assurance Workshop
Exhibiting at Booth #2.
July 31-August 3 2023 Minneapolis, MN
2023 Environmental Measurement Symposium (EMS)
Exhibiting at table #29.
Presenting on Monday July 31st at 1:30PM: Aurelie Marcotte, an experienced atmospheric chemist and analytical instrumentation specialist, will present “Real-Time VOC Measurements in Ambient Air Using Thermal Desorption, Broadband Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy”.
Additionally, join us on Tuesday, August 1st at 3:30PM, for the New Technology Showcase to learn more about our technology and applications.
November 14-16 2023 Durham, NC
Air Quality Measurement Methods and Technology Conference
Exhibiting at Booth #16Platform Presentations include “Review of Ethylene Oxide Monitoring and Measurements with AROMA-ETO” and “Utilization of Broadband Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy for Mobile Leak Detection in the Port of Rotterdam”
Entanglement Technologies has become a member of the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) to further explore AROMA-technology-led solutions for process monitoring in biomanufacturing. NIIMBL is a public-private consortium composed of more than 200 members and federal stakeholder agencies across a diverse set of groups, including large and small companies, research institutions, community colleges, non-profit organizations, and government. Their mission is to “accelerate biopharmaceutical innovation, support the development of standards that enable more efficient and rapid manufacturing capabilities, and educate and train a world-leading biopharmaceutical manufacturing workforce, fundamentally advancing U.S. competitiveness in the industry.”
Entanglement Technologies will be presenting a poster at the NIIMBL 2023 National Meeting June 27 – 29th in Washington D.C. The work is in collaboration with the North Carolina Biotechnology Training and Education Center (NC BTEC) to monitor methanol and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in bioreactor headspace during a Pichia pastoris fermentation process.
Four years after chemical fires sent chemicals billowing for weeks in a Houston-area community, regulators are still reflecting on how to mitigate the effects of such accidents in the future. In a new 2-part series, the Texas Tribune documents the events leading up to the fires and in the aftermath, exposing gaps in air monitoring efforts and highlighting the significant health and environmental impacts of such events.
Shortly after the ITC fires in March 2019, Entanglement Technologies was on the ground in Deer Park, Texas, with the Environmental Defense Fund, monitoring benzene and other hazardous chemicals with our AROMA platform. Using AROMA-VOC, the Entanglement team detected elevated levels of benzene days after the fires were extinguished, as far as 12 miles downwind of the ITC facility. The second part of the new Texas Tribute series details the immediate, and potential long-term, effects of these benzene levels on local residents, underscoring the need for high-quality data collection and dissemination.
The Tribune articles highlight that the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board should be issuing their final report on the 2019 ITC Terminal Fire later this year, and some Houston-area residents are suing ITC. In the years following the fire, Harris County Pollution Control Services unveiled a new mobile monitoring unit called the rapid ambient air monitoring (RAAM) and acquired their own AROMA analyzer to rapidly respond to air quality concerns in the wake of future industrial accidents. In 2022, community groups in Houston and the City of Houston Health Department were also selected to receive funds from an EPA grant to conduct air monitoring of hazardous air pollutants such as 1,3-butadiene, acrolein, and ethylene oxide.
The events surrounding the ITC chemical fires are powerful reminders of the importance of air quality monitoring both in industrial settings and to the broader surrounding communities.
To learn more about how Entanglement Technologies’ AROMA platform can enhance rapid response air and water capabilities, please contact us.
From London, England, to Panama City Beach, FL, Entanglement Technologies will be showcasing its novel platform for measuring contaminants of emerging concern at various conferences this spring. Our Director of Sales and Business Development Dr. Aurelie Marcotte will lead efforts to attend, present, and exhibit at conferences this year, including the Institution of Environmental Sciences Measuring Air Quality Conference in London (March 28, 2023) and the 44th Annual Stationary Source Sampling and Analysis for Air Pollutants (SSSAAP) conference in Panama City Beach (April 2, 2023).
Dr. Marcotte will be highlighting our development efforts to measure contaminants of emerging concern such as ethylene oxide (EtO) and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in ambient air. Sensitive and accurate measurements of EtO and fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs) are challenging to make in the lab by traditional techniques such as GC-MS. Entanglement Technologies’ AROMA analyzers meet or exceed the capabilities of laboratory equipment and can be deployed in the field for long-term stationary monitoring or can turn any vehicle into a mobile lab.
We look forward to sharing our recent developments and connecting with air quality professionals in the U.S. and internationally. Feel free to contact us if you are attending either conference and are interested in speaking with Dr. Marcotte.