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Just breathe: Ozone forecaster unveiled at University of Houston, available via Web

HOUSTON, Aug. 21, 2006 -- People with asthma or other respiratory problems can breathe a sigh of relief thanks to University of Houston professors who have recently unveiled a forecasting system that provides air quality data on ozone conditions.

With the intent to not only increase public awareness, but also help Texas manage air quality issues, the Institute for Multi-dimensional Air Quality Studies (IMAQS) at UH has been operating an air quality forecasting system for a year that has been tested, fine-tuned and now determined ready for public use. Over the course of this past year, the system has been expanded and improved to serve the entire eastern half of Texas, including the Houston and Dallas metropolitan areas.

"Our ozone forecaster is more localized than others and goes into further detail," said Daewon Byun, director of IMAQS and a professor in UH's geosciences department. "For instance, while the ozone conditions may be rated unhealthy in downtown Houston on a given day, suburbs like Sugar Land and The Woodlands may actually be experiencing a good day that still is safe for outdoor activities in those specific areas. Other days, the opposite is true with downtown-area ozone levels being lower than in certain suburbs."

By clicking on the local, regional or national maps at http://www.imaqs.uh.edu/ozone_forecast.htm, the public can obtain a map view of daily maximum ozone levels color-coded with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health alert index. Also included are links to animations of a two-day forecast in one-hour increments. These maps and animations can help individuals, especially those with respiratory problems, plan their day's outside activities. The Web site is updated daily with the most recent 48-hour local, regional and national forecasts, providing graphical analysis of the onset, intensity, duration and area of poor air quality con
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Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
21-Aug-2006


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