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Intellect

BYU media tip: Statistical sleuthing pinpoints polluters

Findings: A Brigham Young University statistics professor has improved the ability to track air pollution to its source. Professor William Christensen’s method reduces the misclassification rate by up to 33 percent compared to existing approaches.

Christensen analyzed Houston air samples to identify pollution from sources such as refineries, auto exhaust and brake dust. The air samples were analyzed for similarity to known combinations of particulate matter associated with these sources. Christensen’s method improves the ability to match emitted particles to their source by considering a wider variety of potential pollution sources than previous methods, which in some cases ruled out the true polluter. Christensen reports his findings in the new issue of the journal Environmetrics.

Relevance: The research, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, provides more accurate information to detect the greatest contributors to air pollution and to safeguard public health.

Writer: Jessica Witt

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Photo by the Ying Quartet

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