Note: TERCās Air Quality Research projects ended in 2009. Research project reports can be obtained by contacting Alex Cuclis at email@example.com.
TERC's goal is to advance scientific and technical knowledge that helps state policy-makers make well-informed decisions about how to reduce ground-level ozone, the state's most pressing and far-reaching environmental problem. Although TERC's original mission in 2002 was related to air quality in the Houston-Galveston area, the research focus has been broadened to include the Dallas-Fort Worth area and much of eastern Texas due to emission transport and related impacts. Activities also now extend to air quality issues besides ozone, specifically hazardous air pollutants and fine particulate matter.
Meeting the ozone standards has been an elusive goal in both Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth. Without question, it is an extremely complex assignment. Ozone forms in the air from reactions between two different types of pollutants - chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and combustion byproducts known as oxides of nitrogen (NOx). These pollutants are emitted by a broad array of sources including large industrial plants, millions of cars and trucks, on-road and off-road diesel equipment and small businesses of many kinds.
TERC has coordinated its research activities closely with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which is responsible for choosing the emission-reducing measures that make up the State Implementation Plan (SIP) for meeting the one-hour standard. TERC has sought to complement the TCEQ's role in formulating the SIP by providing the best science available as a raw material for modeling, technical and policy decisions, and by working collaboratively with TCEQ to ensure that TERC's research enhances the agency's own efforts.