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HARC Launches State-of-the-Art Air Quality Study in Houston

Posting Date: 
Monday, February 2, 2015

BEE-TEX study to demonstrate novel ways of measuring toxic air pollutants in real time.

Research scientists from several leading U.S. atmospheric chemistry laboratories plan to perform state-of-the-art air quality measurements in the Manchester, Galena Park, and Milby Park neighborhoods of Harris County, Texas, as part of the Benzene and other Toxics Exposure (BEE-TEX) study.

Their efforts will take place during the month of February and will be coordinated and evaluated by HARC (the Houston Advanced Research Center) through a grant of $3.2 million from Harris County under a Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) award from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“The monitoring technologies to be tested during BEE-TEX have the potential to drastically change the practice of industrial permitting and emissions reporting, allowing a degree of public transparency never before possible with conventional techniques.”

-- Jay Olaguer, Program Director, Air Quality Science

“The monitoring technologies to be tested during BEE-TEX have the potential to drastically change the practice of industrial permitting and emissions reporting, allowing a degree of public transparency never before possible with conventional techniques,” Dr. Jay Olaguer, HARC’s Program Director of Air Quality Science said.

According to Dr. Olaguer, measurements will include Computer Aided Tomography (CAT) scans of air over a community bordering industrial facilities using light emitting diodes (LEDs) and mirrors mounted on towers.

Human exposure to ambient air pollution will also be evaluated with cultured human lung cells. In addition, three mobile laboratories equipped with fast chemical monitoring devices, portable meteorological stations, and global positioning systems (GPS) will map ground level pollutant concentrations while traveling through neighborhoods.

Researchers from HARC and the University of California at Los Angeles, Aerodyne Research Inc., the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Houston, and Rice University will participate in the study. Collaborating institutions include Harris County, the Texas Environmental Research Consortium, the City of Houston, the Port of Houston Authority, the Port Terminal Railroad Association, the Texas Department of Transportation, and the Houston Regional Monitoring network.

The BEE-TEX Air Quality Study Open House will be held on Saturday, February 7, 2015 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at the Hartman Community Center, 9311 East Avenue P, Houston, TX 77012 (Map). HARC and research partners will be present at the Hartman Community Center to provide attendees with an overview of the monitoring work they will perform during the month of February. After the presentations by researchers, there will be an opportunity for those present to see and hear about the mobile laboratories and the latest monitoring equipment that will be used to develop a 3D image of air pollution over the Manchester and Galena Parks neighborhoods.