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In August and September of 2000, a national team of researchers will undertake the largest air quality study ever done in the State of Texas. The study is designed to improve understanding of the factors that control the formation and transport of air pollutants along the Gulf Coast of southeastern Texas.

Plans call for six weeks of intensive sampling, beginning August 14. Measurements of gaseous, particulate, and hazardous air pollutants will be made at approximately 20 ground stations, located throughout the eastern half of the state. Additional sampling will be carried out with specially equipped aircraft that can detect air pollutants very quickly, at very low concentrations.

Experts in meteorology, atmospheric chemistry, and other areas of science will study the formation, composition, and day-night cycles of ozone and particulate matter, as well as how these pollutants are affected by weather. The large area covered by this study will also make it possible to examine long-range transport of air pollutants. Up to 250 researchers will be involved during the busiest stage of the project. Results of this study will be assembled into computer models for assessing the health effects of pollution and developing effective strategies to meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Until recently, air pollution has been addressed as a local issue. Many of the air quality improvement strategies that are currently in place target specific non-attainment areas. However, this is starting to change. Recent research has demonstrated that ozone, fine particulate matter, and the chemicals that lead to their formation can travel over very long distances. To make a significant difference, future plans will need to take a regional approach.

The Texas Air Quality Study 2000 will be coordinated with a 16-month research project on airborne fine particulate matter. The Houston area has been designated a particulate matter "supersite" [link to SuperSite home page] by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Supersite researchers will use data collected in August and September to help them analyze the chemical makeup of fine particulates, where they come from, and how they behave in the atmosphere.

Lead Investigators

Dr. Peter Daum (Brookhaven National Laboratory)
Dr. James Meagher, Dr. Fred Fehsenfeld (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Dr. James Price (Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission)
Dr. David Allen (The University of Texas at Austin)




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