Nancy Johnston With NASA Officials (1)

LCSC’s Johnston receives INBRE grant to study air quality

LEWISTON, Idaho – Nancy Johnston, an assistant professor in chemistry at Lewis-Clark State College, has received a $249,000 grant from Idaho’s IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) to study air quality in the Lewis-Clark Valley, particularly during summer wildfires.

The study is part of a national study that includes NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Forest Service, the EPA Office of Research and Development, and individuals from five colleges and universities in the West, including Johnston at LCSC.

According to NASA, wildfires in the Northwest account for nearly half of the fire emissions in the United States, with the other half from prescribed burns in the Southeast. Because wildfires burn more fuel, they have larger emissions, which result in larger pollution concentrations that impact air quality. These emissions can be transported over a thousand miles and can impact large regions of the country, especially the West.

Researchers are taking ground-based measurement through September at various sites, including Boise, McCall, and Missoula, where air quality can become an issue in both the summer and winter. The sites will measure the potential high exposures to residents at night.

Johnston’s goals are to find out how wildfires as well as industry effect the Northwest’s air quality and the human exposure and health issues associated with it. Johnston said NASA has had its mobile labs on the LCSC campus a couple of times this summer and she drove officials around the LC Valley to take air quality measurements together.

Idaho INBRE is a statewide scientific network of research and educational collaborations with the aim to improve the health of Idaho. The program is designed to provide greater research opportunities for faculty and students at every higher education institution in the state. LCSC has been part of INBRE since 2004 and previously has used funding to support curriculum development, faculty and student research, and the acquisition of modern instrumentation.