Volatile Organic Compounds

Learn about the Air District’s special purpose volatile organic compounds measurement project.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are precursors to ozone, along with oxides of nitrogen (NOx). In the mid-1990s, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) established Photochemical Assessment Monitoring Stations (PAMS) to monitor VOC levels in high ozone areas. Three regions in northern California (Sacramento, Fresno and Bakersfield) are required to measure VOCs as part of US EPA’s PAMS program. The Bay Area is not required to participate in the program due to its relatively low ozone concentrations and marginal non-attainment status.

Despite the Bay Area’s ozone status, the Air District is committed to continually study ozone in the region and assess the benefits of proposed and adopted emission controls. From that standpoint, it is important to measure VOCs in the Bay Area.

To help the Air District better evaluate the formation of zone, three VOC measurement stations were established in collaboration with the US EPA. These stations (at San Ramon, Livermore and Patterson Pass) began operating in 2009 and 2010. Since then, VOC levels are continuously monitored at these locations, along with NOx and meteorological data. Data obtained from these stations are used for analyzing ambient VOC levels, evaluating models and for studying ambient response of ozone to emission reductions.

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Last Updated: 3/24/2021