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University of Houston awarded nearly $300,000 from EPA science program

Release Date: 03/22/2007
Contact Information: Dave Bary or Tressa Tillman at 214-665-2200 or

Researchers to study effects of ozone, particulate matter on exposure to ultraviolet radiation

(Dallas, Texas – March 22, 2007) The University of Houston recently received a grant for $292,310 from the Environmental Protection Agency and its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program.

University professor Dr. Barry Lefer and his team will use the grant to study how changes in air quality from ozone and particulate matter affect exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

The primary objective of the study is to measure surface level ultraviolet (UV) radiation in Houston over a two-year period. Data from the study will be used to show how clouds, aerosols and ozone change UV levels in the air and how these changes differ from those caused by other factors.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation has significant health and environmental impacts. UV radiation is the primary cause of skin cancer, which will affect an estimated 59,000 Americans in 2007. Increased UV exposure can also negatively impact animals, crops and water systems.

Researchers will use a new atmospheric radiation and chemistry measurement facility located on the university’s main campus that provides continuous measurements of chemical substances that affect UV exposure, such as ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, peroxyacyl nitrates, and volatile organic compounds.

The project will provide important insights into improving the air quality and quality of life for the 5 million residents of the Houston metropolitan area. Other large cities may also be able to benefit from the study’s results. The project will generate a comprehensive dataset that also can be used by other researchers for further study of the relationships between pollution, ozone, and UV levels.

Since the program began in 1995, EPA has awarded hundreds of STAR fellowships and grants to students and universities in almost every state. The program engages the nation’s best scientists and engineers in targeted research that complements EPA’s own outstanding intramural research program. More information on the STAR program is available at

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