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Study Begins to Find Cause of Big Bend Haze

Release Date: 7/20/1999
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the start of a four-month study to determine the cause of increasing haze over Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas. Known as the Big Bend Regional Aerosol and Visibility Observational (BRAVO) Study, this extensive effort was recommended by a joint U.S. and Mexico workgroup late last year. It is made possible by a partnership with the National Park Service and the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC).

     "We owe it to future generations to protect and preserve Big Bend National Park as a natural treasure. Over the last few years, the park's pristine vistas have become increasingly hazy from air pollution blown in from other regions. This study will give scientists a detailed picture of the sources of this haze so we can develop an effective plan to protect this precious landscape," Regional Administrator Gregg Cooke said.

     Air samples will be taken at 40 sites throughout Texas and extending into Oklahoma and Arkansas throughout July, August, September and October. These will be analyzed for the most common cause of haze   fine particle matter, a combination of sulfur compounds, carbon compounds and dust

     Sensitive meteorological equipment at four other sites will help assess the role weather plays in the hazy skies over the park. Also, small amounts of chemicals known as atmospheric tracers will be released at four locations and tracked to determine the impact of pollution from these geographic regions on haze in the Big Bend area.

     Depending upon availability, TNRCC may use aircraft equipped with monitoring instruments to study individual pollution streams. All of this data will be analyzed to pinpoint the reasons for Big Bend's visibility problems.

     Other partners in the BRAVO field study are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Energy, the Desert Research Institute, the University of California-Davis and Colorado State University. Governments and private property owners have been enthusiastic about volunteering space for the air monitors.

     "The BRAVO field study is another fine example of what can be accomplished when concerned citizens, committed organizations and local, state and federal agencies join forces to protect our environment. We're particularly pleased that both utility companies and environmental groups have joined us to make this study a reality," Cooke said.