"Scientists Look at Flares' Impact on Smog"

"The fight for clean air in Houston has a new front: flares.

This month, a group of scientists are looking at what role the emissions coming from flares at refineries and chemical plants may play in the formation of smog.

The $3 million project -- which involves scientists from the University of Houston, University of California at Los Angeles and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, among other institutions -- targets the releases of chemicals known as radical precursors, including formaldehyde, that may exacerbate the eight-county region’s smog problem more than previously realized.

The researchers said the data could lead to more innovative strategies for Houston’s smog fighters, who have succeeded in reducing pollution for a generation but now face a daunting future after federal regulators last year tightened the standards for declaring unhealthy air."

Matthew Tresaugue reports for the Houston Chronicle May 24, 2009.

Source: Houston Chronicle, 05/26/2009