Skip Navigation Links_archived_OAQ-Section

Outdoor Air Quality (OAQ) section

Scanning electron microscope image of Imperial County soot particle

 The Outdoor Air Quality (OAQ) Section of the Environmental Health Laboratory Branch conducts applied research, develops innovative analytical methods, and performs complex laboratory analysis to investigate sources of human exposure to airborne toxicants in the outdoor environment.


Emergency Preparedness Unit

Conducts All Hazards Preparedness Training statewide and operates the All Hazards Risk Assessment Laboratory (AHRAL) to respond to chemical incidents. This unit also validates air quality in the recovery phase of a chemical event using the Emergency Mobile Laboratory (EML).

Environmental Exposure Investigations Unit

Quantifes and identifies various toxics (trace metals, ionic species, minerals, volatile/semi-volatile organic compounds, flame retardants, etc.) in air filters, soil, and dust. Analytical and air sampling capabilities include ICP-MS, XRF, XRD, LC, GC-MS, Raman micro-spectroscopy, and a variety of ambient and source sampling equipment.

Forensic Special Studies Unit

Conducts forensic investigations into the identity and likely sources of environmental toxics. Investigations typically employ FTIR, optical, and electron microscopy of single particles (see microscopy images here), passive air samplers, and portable, continuous monitors. The unit also develops new methods, consults on sampling during toxic chemical emergencies, and tests unknown powders for threat investigations.



Research Projects

 Recent projects include new methods to identify and measure:
  • flame retardants in household dust and consumer products
  • fungal spores
  • windblown dust exposures
  • asbestos in modern brake linings
  • laser printer nanoparticle emissions
  • natural occurrences of asbestos (NOA)
  • impacts of agricultural crop burns using a miniature low-cost personal sampler
  • microplastics in the environment

More Information


Page Last Updated :