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UT Researchers Play Key Role in Historic Air Quality Study

Air quality experts from The University of Texas at Austin are involved in the Texas Air Quality Study (TEXAQS 2000), the biggest air quality study ever conducted in the university's home state.

Faculty, staff, and students from UT's Center for Energy and Environmental Resources (CEER) are currently stationed in Southeast Texas, working with researchers from other agencies and institutions to unravel the complex chemistry of air pollution in the Houston/Galveston/Beaumont area.

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.

Approximately twenty researchers from CEER will participate in the intensive air sampling program. During August and September, air quality data will be collected at twenty ground stations located throughout Southeast Texas. Five specially equipped aircraft will perform additional tests at higher altitudes.

Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US Department of Energy (DOE), the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) and other institutions are also involved in TEXAQS 2000. Up to 250 researchers will be in Houston during the busiest stage of the study. Sampling at several study sites will continue through the coming year under a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency, which has designated Houston as a "Supersite" for fine particulate matter.

UT Austin's team is led by Dr. David Allen, Director of CEER and head of the Environmental Solutions Program. Staff at CEER and the College of Engineering are performing a variety of air quality measurements, and are providing logistical support at all ground sampling stations. UT also maintains a TEXAQS web site, which features daily updates on study activities, and will provide a long-term data archive for future analysis. 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.