Ambient Air Quality

AMANDA HUGHES: amanda-hermann@uiowa.edu

Staff in training, students, teachers and other visitors to the lab toured the Ambient Air Quality trailer at the Coralville laboratory to explore the technology and learn about air quality monitoring.

The Ambient Air Quality section provides technical expertise, equipment calibration and maintenance for monitors that sample and analyze Iowa’s ambient (outdoor) air quality. These monitors – along with monitors maintained by public health departments in Linn and Polk counties – form a surveillance network covering all major population and industrial centers in Iowa.

The state of Iowa requires ambient air monitoring as part of the Clean Air Act. The Hygienic Lab’s Ambient Air section fulfills this requirement through a contract with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Data from more than 100 monitors at 29 sites in 16 Iowa counties is available in the Ambient Air section of the Hygienic Laboratory’s website. Real-time data is highlighted and provides concentration information about many pollutants in Iowa’s air. Many of these monitors have been active for several decades.

Data that is collected by Air Quality staff is submitted to the Iowa DNR and EPA and used for research and enforcement. These are keys to Iowa having some of the cleanest air in the country.


  • Videos, interactive maps and trivia questions created by the Ambient Air Quality section were part of a digital display selected to be part of the University of Iowa Mobile Museum. The museum traveled more than 9,000 miles across Iowa to 90 events, attracting about 36,000 visitors in 39 counties and 57 towns.

  • Two Iowa teachers, who spent part of their summer as externs, developed a poster and an at-a-glance display for a 65-foot monitor to give visitors an overview of the Ambient Air Quality network.

Other Units in Environmental Health

The Office of the Director consists of 10 key functional units that enable the State Hygienic Laboratory to achieve its statutory charge set forth in the Iowa Administrative Code.

The primary mission of the Disease Control Division is to test human specimens, food and water for diseases of public health significance to protect the citizens of Iowa.

The Environmental Health Division monitors drinking water, wastewater, air, soil and food for contaminants of potential environmental and public health concern.

The Division of Administration and Finance is responsible for the management of the business practices, all Hygienic Laboratory facilities, and pre/post testing support.