by: Jim Bell, August 23, 2006 12:08:00 am
Ground level ozone is a known health hazard, especially for people with respiratory problems, and Houston has one of the worst ozone pollution problems in the country. U of H Professor Daewon Byun developed a national ozone forecasting system for the EPA and the National Weather Service, and now he's fine-tuned that system for regional and local use. Byun's forecasts are much more detailed than the state forecasts, because ozone levels vary from one part of town to another.
"As you may expect because of wind, depending on how wind blows, all the pollutants in the atmosphere kind of sometimes converge into one special area, while clearing in the other place."
Dr. Byun says people need to know what ozone levels they can expect as they move around town every day, so they're giving this forecast to the public on a website.
"When you plan outside activities for your kids, and for people especially having some weak immune system or some asthmatic problems, and if they go out to a place where actually we already know there will be a high ozone event, then they will get more health problems."
Houston is under federal mandate to reduce ozone levels and get into compliance with the Clean Air Act by next year or risk losing federal highway dollars. There's a link to the new ozone forecast website on our website KUHF dot org. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.