Air and Climate Change Research
Technical Services Branch
Paul Groff, Acting Branch Chief
The Technical Services Branch (TSB) is part of the National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL), Air Pollution Prevention and Control Division (APPCD), located at Research Triangle Park.
TSB is responsible for services necessary to support Division technical programs. TSB coordinates, manages, and provides:
- Quality Assurance (QA) and Expert Technical Support to APPCD Programs
- Metrology Laboratory to Ensure Quality of Measurements
- Statistical Support to APPCD Programs
- In-House Shop Services
- Research Programs
TSB’s QA Team provides unsurpassed technical support to each APPCD Branch on various research programs and maintains an awareness of new technologies of interest to the Division. QA Team Members serve as technical advisers on selection of measurement methods. Other support includes design and selection of ambient air measurement instrumentation, installation and operation of continuous monitoring equipment for air pollutants, laboratory analysis methods for air pollutants, x-ray diffraction/fluorescence analysis, scanning electron microscope-energy dispersive x-ray (SEM-EDX) analysis, metals analysis, and custom analysis of dioxins/furans in unique matrices.
- G. Larry Farmer, Management Analyst
- A. Wayne Fowler, Engineering Technician
- Paul W. Groff, Supervisory Program Analyst
- William A. Mitchell, IT Specialist (Customers Support/Systems Analyst)
- Scott A. Moore, Engineering Technician
- Diane L. Pierce, Management and Program Analyst
- Christopher E. Pressley, Equipment Specialist
- William C. Squier, Engineering Technician
- Dennis Tabor, Research Chemist
- Richard Valentine
- Robert S. Wright, Chemist
Quality Assurance Program
TSB’s quality assurance (QA) program supports APPCD’s in-house and extramural research projects through planning and experimental design, document reviews, audits, statistics evaluations, QA training, and metrology services. The primary goal of the EPA Quality System is to ensure that all environmental programs produce quality scientific research. The QA program also provides for statistical support in experimental design and review of statistical methods or data analysis. The QA team has assisted in the preparation of documentation of the equipment and procedures used in each of the approximately 35 individual facilities within APPCD’s intramural research operations.
QA team members serve as technical advisers in selection of physical and chemical measurement methods and instrumentation, sampling instrumentation, calibration methods and standards, and toxicity testing and safety evaluations. Training is provided in experimental design, QA policies, calibration procedures, and other aspects of quality assurance and quality control. The QA tam reviews and approves research planning documents including Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs), Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and Quality Management Plans (QMPs).The QA team audits APPCD projects for documentation, accuracy of measurements, compliance with QA plans, and data handling procedures. All final reports, journal articles, and conference papers are reviewed by the QA team.
In addition to the above tasks the QA team is also responsible for updating and maintenance of the EPA "Traceability Protocol" for gaseous calibrations standards.
Model, Machine and Fabrication Shop
The APPCD Shop provides support and assistance to research programs by planning, designing, fabricating, and assembling scientific equipment which is used in-house at EPA and in various field studies. Typical skills and services include engineering design, computer-numeric controlled and conventional machining, precision and standard welding, electrical and electronic wiring, carpentry, plumbing, and all types of equipment maintenance. Products of the Shop function include prototype test and sampling devices, ductwork, superstructure, novel and innovative burners, custom probes, and engineering drawings.
A metrology laboratory provides calibration services and standards for physical and electronic measurements, including mass, temperature, flow, humidity, pressure, volume, electrical current, resistance, and frequency. The metrology laboratory is also used to prepare performance evaluation (PE) samples in support of QA auditing efforts. Representative PE samples include volatile organic gas mixtures, semi-volatile organic mixtures including polychlorinated dioxins and furans and inorganic standard reference materials.
APPCD’s deploys a variety of computer hardware (e.g., personal computers, UNIX-based servers and workstations, and DEC VAX and ALPHA servers) and software. These are used to support APPCD’s research, development, and demonstration mission. TSB logs, and tracks all requests received from APPCD research personnel. A TSB computer specialist identifies and analyzes problems or clarifies requests and/or provides immediate resolution to problems or requests. A Users’ Guide is available to provide self-help guidance to APPCD personnel involving WAN/LAN, PC operation and uses, capabilities and operating procedures, and software is updated and ordered to support the needs of APPCD research needs.
The Electronics Shop provides diverse, specialized electronics support to meet APPCD’s needs. The shop has experts providing maintenance, repair, and modification of existing equipment; design and fabrication of prototype instrumentation and unique electronic devices; The electronics shop assists program personnel in selection of electronic equipment. Support is provided for both analytical and process instrumentation. The Shop also provides support for computerized data acquisition systems. Examples of support include selection or construction of:
- computer systems;
- fabricating special cables;
- selecting proper data acquisition hardware and software;
- installing data acquisition hardware and software;
- modifying hardware and writing software to achieve special features;
- designing and fabricating printed circuit boards.