The Natural Resources Department of the Wampanoag Tribe monitors the air and water quality on Martha’s Vineyard for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Tribe has a diverse air program that provides air deposition sampling and ambient ozone monitoring for its Tribal lands and the Cape Cod region. The laboratory serves as the center for the Tribe’s air quality programs and the data collected is shared with both the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The air program, through a Direct Implementation grant, continuously monitors ground-level ozone, a lung irritant, and also particulate matter, fine particles that can cause a variety of short and long-term effects. Our sampling site on Tribal lands has become an important monitoring location because we are removed from large industry here on Martha’s Vineyard. The data captured is used in environmental studies focused around the health and safety of environment and our Tribal membership.
The Tribe operates a Particulate Monitor 2.5 IMPROVE air sampling station (IMPROVE stands for Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments). This sampling station turns on and off at the same time as other similar units nationwide, passing an air sample through filters where particulate matter is collected. The filters are removed weekly and sent to a laboratory at the University of California Davis Air Quality Group, where they are analyzed for various metals and aerosols. Their evaluations are provided to the EPA, uploaded to their website, and made available to the public.
The Natural Resources Department has and continues to operate a successful ozone monitoring program since 2003. Ambient levels of ground level ozone are constantly monitored throughout the year at our laboratory site. Our data is exported in real-time to the state of Massachusetts Ozone Program for validation allowing the state to issue air quality alerts immediately. The Tribe’s ozone data is vital to public health, which without, air quality for the entire Cape Cod region could not be validated. Once the state validates the data, it gets uploaded to a national database and is made accessible to professional agencies and the general public.
In addition the Tribe is analyzing the contribution of “deposition”, that is, the air pollution that arrives here from elsewhere. As fish and shellfish are important to Tribal members, both culturally and economically, the NRD also has conducted studies of fish tissue to assess the impact of airborne pollution on Tribal sustenance foods. As Aquinnah has few sources of air pollution, both the air monitors and deposition and fish tissue analyses have helped EPA better understand the transport of air pollutants.
For more information on air quality, please use the links provided below.