Air Quality: Mercury, Trace Elements, and Particulate Matter Conference Summary
Click on the individual photos of the collage above for additional information.

Why Was This Conference Held?

This conference was held to bring government, industry, and the research community together to discuss the critical issues of how air quality can impact human health and the ecosystem, specifically hazardous air pollutants and fine airborne particles; available and developing control strategies and research needs; and an update on federal and state policy and regulations, related implementation issues, and the framework of the future.

When and Where Was the Air Quality Conference Held?

The Air Quality Conference took place December 1?4, 1998, in Tysons Corner, McLean, Virginia (on the outskirts of Washington, DC).

Who Sponsored the Conference?

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the EERC's Center for Air Toxic Metals (CATM), and the U.S. Department of Energy Federal Energy Technology Center collaboratively organized and sponsored the conference, with Northern States Power Company sponsoring the poster session. The EERC took a lead role in organizing the conference, due in large part to its programs such as CATM, which have positioned the EERC globally as one of the leading groups on issues related to mercury and other trace elements associated with fine particles. The conference organizers were able to draw from this expertise in planning the conference, which evolved from previous CATM annual meetings.

What Were the Conference Highlights ? Who Were the Presenters?

U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson delivered a keynote address during the opening session of the conference entitled "Air Quality in the Future of Power Generation." DOE is developing technology to monitor and control particulate matter, a mixture of solid and liquid particles suspended in the air. Much of the particulate matter in the atmosphere is produced by human activities such as energy production and use, agriculture, wood stoves, and industrial processes. "These unseen particles may pose respiratory problems for certain portions of the population, and for this Administration, there is no higher priority than protecting the health of our citizens," said Richardson. "At the same time, if our clean air regulations are to be fair and scientifically sound, we need to understand much better the linkage between the levels of these pollutants in the atmosphere and their sources, both human and natural." Richardson's priorities for DOE include protecting national security, advancing the frontiers of science and technology, helping to solve the challenge of global climate change, ensuring the safe and effective environmental cleanup at DOE sites, working to deliver $20 billion in savings to the consumers by bringing competition to the electricity industry, and ensuring a balanced energy portfolio for the United States.

U.S. Senator Kent Conrad also gave a keynote address on "Making Public Policy in the Face of Uncertainty: The Need for Solvent Scientific Information," and U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan gave a luncheon address.

Dirk Forrister, Chairman of the White House Climate Change Task Force, delivered the banquet address. The Task Force, which is under the auspices of the President's Council on Sustainable Development, was created to advise the President on domestic policy options and activities that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions using approaches that maximize societal benefits, minimize economic impacts, and are consistent with U.S. international agreements.


A number of key individuals throughout industry and government participated in the conference as session chairs and presenters. To find out more about the presenters and topics covered, you can access the conference brochure.

Three press releases were sent out prior to the conference.

Who Attended the Air Quality Conference?

The conference was attended by over 200 individuals from 31 states and the District of Columbia, as well as three Canadian provinces, the United Kingdom, and Australia. The goal of pulling together industry, research, government, and academia was certainly fulfilled, as final demographic results indicate that industry representatives made up the majority of conference attendees at 38%, followed closely by government at 34% and research at 18%. The remaining attendees consisted of academia, press, lawyers, and consultants.

What Did the Attendees Have to Say About the Conference?

We received numerous comments from attendees, including the following:

"The guest speakers were excellent."

"The conference served to define the cutting edge for mercury."

"Best source of information on some of the more controversial issues of our age."

"Excellent source of current information."

"The conference was well organized, had knowledgeable speakers, and provided valuable information, both technical and otherwise, to all. The clear message (or at least one) is to strike a balance between policy and science and to continue valuable research on air quality issues."

Are Conference Proceedings Available?

A conference proceedings in the form of a three-ring binder containing copies of the presentations is available for US$75.00. If you would like a copy of the proceedings, please contact:

Anne Fiala

A special issue of Fuel Processing Technology entitled "Air Quality: Mercury, Trace Elements, and Particulate Matter" is scheduled for publication by Elsevier Science in late 1999. The special issue will comprise approximately 38 peer-reviewed papers, many of which were first presented at the Air Quality Conference, including a summary of the two panel sessions held at the end of the conference.

Will a Follow-Up Conference Be Held?

We have had several requests for information regarding the next Air Quality Conference. Plans are currently under way for Air Quality II, planned to take place September 19-21. If you did not receive information for the first Air Quality Conference and would like to be added to our mailing list, please contact:

Clara Chambers