Characterization of Particulate Air Pollution in a Community near the Port of Houston

Ambient Air Measurements
Oral Presentation

Prepared by , M. Afshar

Contact Information: [email protected]; 713-500-9260


With the completion of the Panama Canal Expansion Project in 2016, the Port of Houston (POH) is undertaking infrastructure improvements (e.g., bridge, railroad, tunnels and deeper harbor) to ensure the accommodation of large vessels and increased cargo volumes. On the one hand, there are potential economic benefits for communities near the POH such as the creation of jobs. On the other hand, a particular concern is the potential for increased exposure to diesel particulate matter (DPM) and hazardous ambient pollutants such as nickel (Ni) and vanadium (V), resulting from the increased diesel-fueled truck, train and barge traffic, in large part, due to the freight transportation from POH to other locations across the U.S. These compounds are considered as human health hazards. The objective of the proposed research was to assess community exposure related to diesel-powered truck traffic and shipping activities by measuring black carbon (as a surrogate for DPM) and trace elements in PM2.5. The sampling campaign began May 2016 and will be ended August 2017. Our preliminary results during the periods of May-December 2016 showed that the average weekly concentrations of PM2.5 ranged from 9.5 g/m3 to 25.7 g/m3. The weekly average concentrations of black carbon were between 0.28 and 1.11 g/m3. In our future study, we will completely analyze DPM and trace elements in PM2.5 for assessment of community exposure to particulate air pollutants near the POH.