Sensors to measure pollution at Arizona border crossing

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Pollution from trucks crossing the U.S.-Mexican border at the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, Ariz., will be monitored for three weeks by remote sensors deployed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

Studies report that emissions are creating severe air pollution problems in border communities, but this will be the first time remote sensing technology has been used at any border crossing to study truck emissions. The three-week study is expected to give the most comprehensive information ever available on the subject. The study could influence national emissions control and air pollution strategies.

Beginning March 11, the sensors will use infrared and ultraviolet light to inspect trucks during a one-second drive-by emissions test.

“Remote sensing devices unobtrusively measure exhaust emissions on the road as motor vehicles pass unimpeded through ultraviolet and infrared beams cast across a roadway,” said Niranjan Vescio, a general manager at Environmental Systems Products, which developed the technology. “RSDs are stationed along road shoulders and instantly analyze motor vehicle exhaust by measuring the amount of light absorbed by the emitted pollutants.”

Four million trucks enter the United States each year through crossings in California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, 250,000 through the Mariposa-Nogales crossing alone. Officials expect even more truck traffic when the North American Free Trade Agreement is fully implemented.

“RSDs are the only equipment that can measure virtually every one of the nearly 1,400 trucks that pass through the border crossing each day,” said James Tong, the Mariposa-Nogales port director.