EPA to fund air toxics monitoring in Houston Ship Channel
July 15, 2008
Houston, Texas – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $643,112 to the City of Houston to measure and analyze toxic chemicals in the air around the Houston Ship Channel.
The money will be used to detect volatile organic compound air toxics emissions in the Ship Channel area using a laser that can identify pollutants based on how much light the atmosphere reflects.
Rep. Gene Green (D-Houston) said he was pleased with the EPA's decision, especially given the Houston area's history of air quality problems. "Government and industry must work together to improve our air, and this grant will give us a fantastic tool to achieve that goal by providing better data," he said.
In 2006 Rice University released a report recommending immediate action to reduce atmospheric levels of butadiene, benzene, formaldehyde, and diesel particulate matter because current levels pose a “dangerously high risk of cancer and other health problems.” An Environment Texas study released in March 2007 found that the Houston-Galveston area led the nation in industrial emissions of air toxics.
Green has supported the City of Houston and the University of Texas's Houston School of Public Health in their air toxics research, and he has also worked to increase federal investment to eliminate the problem. This year he requested $2.6 million for the Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxics Research Center through the congressional appropriations process.
The laser technology the grant will pay for, called Differential Absorption Light Detection and Ranging (DIAL), will be used to identify previously unknown or underestimated sources of air toxics in the Ship Channel area.