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USF College of Public Health hosts BRACE research analysis

The partners in the Bay Region Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment gathered together at the USF College of Public Health in continuance of the intensive water and air pollution study that took place in May.

In the February data workshop, more than a dozen speakers presented the different aspects of research through a process of cross-examination of chemical concentrations at the BRACE sites.

In May, the researchers collected detailed research based on the air and water quality of the Tampa Bay region. Five different sites were monitored for air quality through the use of a special research aircraft powered by a twin-engine propeller. The aircraft, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, was given permission to fly at low altitudes of 500 feet while performing research. Data was monitored from the findings of four meteorological sites located in the Pinellas and Hillsborough area. The main site of testing and data was located in Sydney, Fla.

USF faculty and graduate students have worked as active participants in the project. Faculty participants include Noreen Poor, professor of environment and occupational health, Scott Campbell, professor of engineering, V.R. Bhethanabotla professor of chemical engineering and research faculty member Paul Tate.

Poor worked as the project manager for all of the BRACE research sites. Her duties involved being the first to handle the experimental data through executing, processing and publishing, then taking the data and assisting in communicating the findings at teleconferences and meetings.

“I have a much better understanding of the logistics of running a large scale project,” Poor said.

According to Poor, the purpose of BRACE is to secure a better understanding of how emissions affect the air. The specific research focus lay in how the local emissions affect the air quality under the influence of land sea breeze.

“It has been an absolute thrilling experience to work with and to learn from national scientists,” said Poor.

The USF researchers worked in partnership with a nationwide group of organizations in the BRACE project. Other participants include the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County, USEPA, NOAA, University of Michigan, Texas Tech University and Argonne National Laboratory.

The research of BRACE was funded by the Florida Department of Environmental protection and in part by the Tampa Electric Department, NOOA and USEPA.

The BRACE project is expected to continue until 2005. Currently the BRACE project is at the halfway point in processing and modeling the data. Measurements are still being taken at Simmons Park, Gandy Park and the Sydney sites. According to Poor, the February conference was a cross-examination process where trends and quality in data were evaluated. She said it has been found that there is a higher level of nitric acid than originally estimated. State of the art technology was used to measure Hillsborough region fume emissions. The results of the higher nitric level in the region are still being processed.

The first publications of the results are expected to be done by December 2003 for the next conference located in San Francisco. Poor said the research of BRACE in the local Tampa Bay region has broader applications in the future on a regional, national and global scale.