Major air pollution study launched

Six aircraft, 60 ground stations, three DOE labs among 40 institutions participating

Houston, TX -- A national team of over 150 researchers has begun one of the most comprehensive air quality studies ever conducted in the U.S. Over six weeks, scientists at three U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories, in collaboration with researchers from more than 40 public, private, and academic institutions, will study air pollution in the Houston region and the eastern half of Texas.

Their aim is to better understand the complex interactions among various sources of pollution, meteorology, and other variables that contribute to ozone production and fine-particle air pollution. The ultimate goal is to identify cost-effective, efficient ways to control these pollutants to protect public health and the environment.

"If you understand a lot about the sources of pollution and the processes that are involved, you can make intelligent decisions about how to deal with the problem," says Peter Daum, one of the lead investigators on the study. Daum is a chemist at the DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory.

During the Texas 2000 Air Quality Study, six research aircraft, including the DOE Grumman Gulfstream 1, will make daily sampling flights: some at fixed altitude approximately 2,500 feet above the surface, and some ranging from 300 feet to 10,000 feet to study the vertical distribution of pollutants and their precursors. Sixty ground-based air-quality and meteorological monitoring stations, including one at the top of a Houston skyscraper, will provide additional data on ozone, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, fine particles, and precursor chemicals. The scientists will combine these data to study how the chemicals mix, move, and react in the atmosphere under a variety of meteorological conditions.

Ozone, one of the pollutants under study, is formed from reactions between sunlight and nitrogen oxides

Contact: Karen McNulty
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

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