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the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the electricity grid in Puerto Rico was
devastated, with over 90% of the island without electricity; as of December
2017, about 50% of the island lacked electricity, and power outages were common
elsewhere. Backup generators are widely used, sometimes as the main source of
electricity. The hurricane also damaged the island’s existing air monitoring
network and the University of Puerto Rico’s observing facilities. We deployed
four lower-cost air quality monitors (Real-time Affordable Multi-Pollutant or
RAMP monitors) and a black carbon (BC) monitor in the San Juan Metro Area in
November 2017. The first month of data collected with the RAMPs showed high
sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations of
varying magnitudes each night. SO2 and CO are strongly correlated (r2
>0.9) at two sites ~5 km apart (University of Puerto Rico and an
industrial area, Puerto Nuevo), suggesting a single source type. BC measured at
the UPR site is also well correlated with CO and SO2. While the
RAMPs are not certified as a federal equivalent method, the RAMP SO2
data suggest that the EPA’s daily 1-hour threshold for SO2
(75 ppb) was exceeded on almost 80% of the first 30 days of deployment
(November-December 2017). The widespread reliance on generators for regular
electric supply in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria appears to have increased
air pollution in San Juan.