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Spring Symposium on UR and Community Engagement has ended
Tuesday, April 24 • 11:15am - 11:35am
Case Study Analysis Of Ozone Concentrations In Houston TX During Hurricane Harvey

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Ozone and sulfur dioxide are two of the six criteria pollutants monitored by the Clean Air Act, as they pose many human health and environmental risks, which is of particular concern in Houston TX. Due to the several hundred petrochemical plants and the several dozen crude oil refineries in Houston, the city experiences some of the highest concentrations of ozone, sulfur dioxide, and peroxy radicals of any city in the United States. The complex geography, influence of the inertial gravity wave (i.e. sea breeze), and the normal synoptic-scale flow makes Houston unique regarding ozone attainment. The landfall of Hurricane Harvey in Houston in August 2017 created an opportunity to assess the city’s ozone response. Ozone, wind, and volatile organic compound (VOC) data collected before, during, and after the hurricane are analyzed. Using a network of automated observation sites between the Houston ship channel and the city center, VOC (e.g. Benzene, Ethane, Ethylene, and Sulfur Dioxide) increases were correlated with non-typical ozone changes (NTOCs). As a result of the flooding, winds, and shutdown of petrochemical plants, several tons of VOCs were released, contributing to the highest 8 h ozone average in 2017 for the entire state of Texas. Additionally, from September 1 to September 5 average wind speeds were ≤ 5 mph, and wind directions were primarily from the East, allowing ozone and VOCs to advect to and build up in the Houston downtown area.


Tuesday April 24, 2018 11:15am - 11:35am
213 Rhoades Robinson Hall