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Houston Exposure to Air Toxics Study (HEATS)

HEATS is one of the largest studies on air toxics ever undertaken in Houston, and was designed to help us better understand how toxics that people breathe compare to toxics measured at stationary air monitors.

 

Final Report (October 31, 2009)

HEATS was completed in 2009 and a final report from the Principal Investigators at the University of Texas School of Public Health – Houston was issued on October 31, 2009.

In Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Portable Document Format (PDF). Help with PDF.

Presentation on Final Report

Adobe Acrobat PDF Document  January 2010 Presentation

General Information and Background

What is the HEATS Project?

HEATS is one of the largest studies on air toxics ever undertaken in Houston, and was designed to help us better understand how toxics that people breathe compare to toxics measured at stationary air monitors.

The HEATS project was a multi-year collaborative study involving local universities; state, federal, and local government agencies; and research organizations. HEATS assessed the relationship between personal exposures and ambient concentrations of select hazardous air pollutants (HAPS) by monitoring residential indoor, outdoor, and personal air concentrations. HEATS also examined population-level health and risk perception through the administration of questionnaires.

Target Areas

HEATS involved residents and air toxics in a two mile radius of the Manchester neighborhood, near the Houston Ship Channel and in Aldine, a socio-demographically similar neighborhood that is not near the Ship Channel.  The study measured and compared levels in each area and tested several hypothesis, primarily whether personal exposures/personal air concentrations to selected air toxics would be similar in the two communities.

The ship Channel area of Houston was selected because it has a high density of point source emissions of HAPS.  Aldine was selected because it is a similar community but has few point source emissions of HAPS.

Study Phases

Phase 1
—develop and test all study tools and protocols;

Phase 2
—pilot-test all tools and protocols developed in Phase 1;

Phase 3
—conduct the full study in approximately 40 households in each study area; and

Phase 4
—complete all data analyses and draft the final report.

Why Was This Study Conducted and What Did It Seek to Accomplish?

Traditional air pollution monitors are located in one spot (for example, on the roof of an elementary school); however, people do not typically breathe in just that particular spot, and likely have different exposures to air toxics as they go about their daily activities. Collecting personal exposure information allowed the TCEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to better understand if Houston residents’ daily exposure to air toxics differs from what ambient monitoring data would suggest, whether this exposure presents a potential health risk, and if so, how to help effectively reduce that risk.

The data collected will help the TCEQ and the EPA develop more effective strategies to reduce population risks by better linking ambient source contributions (like automobiles, industrial facilities, or consumer products) to actual exposures, as well as guiding future studies on the potential links between environmental exposures to air toxics, risk perception, and health effects.