AAH Monitors the Air throughout Houston

Although Earth Day Houston is less than a month away, we stay busy at the Air Alliance Houston office. There is much work to be done on air quality in our region. Right now we are participating in no fewer than three separate air monitoring projects. This week saw us in the field taking air quality samples for each one. Below are some photos and details from our recent work.

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The Bridge to Clean Air is an exciting new project we have just begun with generous funding from the Baxter Trust. We have enlisted the help of Rice University to study air pollution on one of Houston’s busiest roads. The inbound lanes of US-59 south of Houston are a hot spot for rush hour congestion–and the vehicle pollution that comes with it. We are studying whether particulate matter and nitrogen oxides might pose a danger to commuters, and whether anything can be done about it.

Two days this week, during rush hour, students from Rice have collected samples. Here we see Jackie with a Teledyne nitrogen oxides monitor and William setting up a GRIMM Aerosol particulate matter monitor.
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Metal Air Pollution Partnership Solutions

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In our metal recycler air pollution study, we assisted the UT School of Public Health with sampling at a facility in Magnolia Park. Dr. Inkyu Han with UT Health prepared the equipment, which requires special training to operate. For this project, we are sampling for the metal components of particulate matter. We will determine whether metal particulates from the scrap metal recycling industry present a danger to surrounding communities.

Once Dr. Han prepared the equipment, Juan Flores and I took turns looking after it throughout the day. Here’s Juan standing next to a BGI PQ-200 particulate matter monitor. This Federal Equivalency Method monitor is a big brother to the MiniVol Tactical Air Samplers that Air Alliance Houston has used for years.
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Pasadena Community Monitoring

20160315_122236Finally, our last project is one Air Alliance Houston has undertaken itself, and is generously funded by the Houston Endowment. You have probably seen our work in Pasadena over the last year and a half. We are please to announce that we have begun particulate matter sampling in the community of North Pasadena. This community, sandwiched between State Highway 225 and the Houston Ship Channel, faces pollution from both the highway and its abundance of diesel trucks, and the petrochemical industry.

In the last two weeks, we have samples at locations throughout North Pasadena, including Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services (where we maintain a small field office), the Harris County Fire Marshall’s Office, Pasadena High School, and two local churches. Here’s Brian setting up the MiniVols on the roof of the New Testament Church.

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Each of these three projects is looking at a different type of air pollution in the Houston region. The variety of our work lately illustrates a point about Houston’s air pollution challenges: they are many and varied. Most Houstonians know about the regional threat of ozone pollution, but what about the local impacts of high-traffic roads, metal recyclers, or other local sources?

There is much work to be done to understand the many health threats due to poor air quality in Houston. Air Alliance Houston is proud to do that work with our partners including Rice, UT Health, Harris County, the City of Houston, and others.

With their support, and yours, we can make Houston a little safer for everyone. Because everyone breathes.