Date of Award

Spring 12-8-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Engineering (ME)

First Advisor

Jana B. Milford

Second Advisor

Michael P. Hannigan

Third Advisor

Shelly L. Miller


This dissertation is separated into two sections. The first section discusses the use of low cost noise meters and air quality monitors at the Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) Cole. The second section estimates the source contribution of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) measured in Denver and Platteville, Colorado. Future construction to improve the interstate-70 (I-70) freeway has the potential to negatively impact the health of nearby residents. A portion of the I-70, located directly next to Swansea elementary school, will undergo major construction and could affect the students’ ability to learn and focus. This study worked with students at the nearby DSST Cole high school in order to provide them with the ability to monitor their air quality and noise exposure during the construction. Smartphones/tablets were selected as the noise monitoring devices due to their ubiquity and affordability; a SparkFun microcontroller and optical dust sensor were selected as the air quality monitoring devices due to their ease of use and affordability. All of the necessary equipment was provided for the students and two trimesters were spent teaching the students about air quality, the physics of sound, computer programming, and how to operate the devices. The second part of this dissertation focuses on the source apportionment of ambient VOC concentrations measured at Denver and Platteville. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment began collecting ambient VOC concentration data in December 2011, but due to co-elution issues this study examines data collected between January 2013 and June 2016. A 2011 emissions inventory for the Denver Metro/North Front Range area was used as a guide to determine the main emissions sources in the North Front Range. Using the chemical mass balance (CMB) model to apportion the ambient data, the main emissions sources were found to be condensate tanks, produced gas, vehicle exhaust, diurnal evaporative vehicle emissions, architectural solvents, isoprene, and alpha-pinene. CMB estimated condensate tanks and produced gas to be the dominant sources of emissions in Platteville, while vehicle exhaust and condensate tanks were the dominant sources in Denver. The CMB results were also used to apportion ozone formation potential using the maximum incremental reactivity scale. Although alkanes dominate the concentration estimates on a carbon basis, the alkenes, due to their reactivity, lead to larger ozone concentrations.

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