Chicago as a Source of Air Toxics to Lake Michigan

This study investigates the Chicago region as a source of air toxics to Lake Michigan. The long-term outcome is the reduction of potentially toxic organic compounds in the lake. Sites will be established on water intake cribs to augment existing monitoring sites in the city.

Over the four-year study, about 650 air samples will be collected and analyzed for a suite of over 250 organic pollutants. The data will be interpreted to find the Chicago contribution of the pollutants entering Lake Michigan (in kilograms per year).

This project is located at the University of Iowa and at Indiana University. Field work is conducted in Chicago, Illinois, and Lake Michigan. This study investigates the importance of the Chicago region as a source of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to Lake Michigan. The overall goal of the project is to better understand the relationship between the observed concentrations of persistent organic pollutants in Chicago’s air and their subsequent deposition into Lake Michigan.

Our overall objectives are to quantify the spatial variability of POPs in the City of Chicago; to quantify the annual deposition of Chicago POPs into Lake Michigan; and to determine the variability and major forcing functions that control deposition of urban airborne POPs to Lake Michigan. The overall hypothesis is that the entire Chicago metro area is a major source of airborne POPs to Lake Michigan.

This work will further address a corollary hypothesis that the effectiveness of remediation efforts is dependent on the successful identification and quantitative characterization of emission sources (hot spots) in Chicago.  We will address these hypotheses through field studies, laboratory measurements, and modeling.