HARC’s Air Quality Research Scientist, Dr. Ebrahim Eslami, was interviewed by Environmental Health News’ Video Journalist, Cami Ferrell, regarding the impact of heat on air pollution in the Houston area.
The interview and accompanying article explain how the recent intense heat waves induced by climate change have created conditions for air pollution to become worse.
Dr. Eslami provided insights and information on emissions, pollutants, and heat. As he explained, “Ozone is a secondary emission, a secondary pollutant. This means that it doesn’t emit from somewhere directly, so it has to be formed.”
The video explains that the oil refining petrochemical process is Houston’s largest contributor to ozone, a process that causes gas emissions such as propane, benzene, and butadiene. These emissions produce favorable conditions for ozone to form by creating volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOXs). When heat is added to these conditions, ozone pollution is created, which can cause chronic respiratory conditions like bronchitis, asthma, and even permanent lung damage.
Ending on a hopeful note, the report provides suggestions for what citizens can do to become more aware of air quality levels in Houston and throughout the state of Texas, such as knowing who regulates air in a particular region. Dr. Eslami pointed out that compared to previous decades, there is more help available now because people have more immediate access to information. He states, “Nowadays, people go to public meetings and can defend themselves. [They can say] ‘So, I live here. I smell these things. Why do you want to expand that [industrial plant]? What about me?’”
To learn more about Dr. Ebrahim Eslami, click here.
For information on HARC’s air quality research, click here.
To watch the interview, click here.