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Station monitors Manteca air
Equipment monitor Gary Stanford greets those touring the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District monitoring station that was unveiled Wednesday morning on the Sierra High School campus. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

It won’t be long before the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District knows exactly what circulates in the air of southwest Manteca.

On Wednesday a new air monitoring station located on the outskirts of the Sierra High School campus was unveiled in a ceremony designed to outline the benefits that the facility will bring to the district’s monitoring efforts and to showcase the tools used to measure particle matter as well as wind speed and direction.

And its location, Chief Communications Officer Jaime Holt, will shed new light on the air quality in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

“This is a unique location because it’s 10 feet from homes and 20 feet from the stadium and the campus,” Holt said – noting that two of the three other air monitoring stations in San Joaquin County are located at the two rural airports. “This will help show us what the air quality is like living, working and studying at this location. This is going to help show us what sort of pollutants are making it here up the corridor from other parts of the valley, and we’ll be able to input that into our models.”

The facility itself cost roughly $210,000 to outfit and equip and will require another $30,000 to $40,000 annually to maintain and operate according to district air pollution and control officer and executive director Seyed Sadredin. Funding come from a multitude of sources with the federal government being the prime contributor, and fees will likely cover the annual operating cost of the site.

Two Sierra High School classes attended the brief ceremony before taking a tour of the small facility and learning what goes into detecting and monitoring both small and large particulate matter in the air. It’s the measuring stations like at the one at Sierra High that help the district determine the overall air quality.

According to Manteca Unified Leadership on Green Initiatives Committee – or LOGIC – director Victoria Brunn, giving the students on site the chance to learn about the tools that go into measuring air quality helps provide a direct link to the things that they’ll likely become accustomed to as environmental concerns become more an issue for future generations.

“I think it’s giving them a real life connection to the things that they hear about,” Brunn said. “Tomorrow Mr. Leland will pull the site up in the classroom for the students to actually see what this station will monitor and it’ll show them even more about it. I think that green issues are going to be a big part of the future with jobs and this helps give insight to the students that might want to go into this field.”