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White helicopter will collect air quality data

Aug. 2, 2011 at 3:02 a.m.


Residents in South Texas may see a white helicopter in the sky during the month of August.

The helicopter is collecting data for air quality research, according to a news release from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The helicopter could hover over or near pipelines, oil and gas production facilities and other industrial facilities to gather images and data on potential emissions sources.

The helicopter is equipped with a specialized infrared camera called the Hawk that can image volatile organic compounds and other hydrocarbon air pollution invisible to the eye. Volatile organic compounds are present in common things like gasoline and used as solvents or industrial chemicals. They can combine with nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight to form ground-level ozone, according to the news release.

Identifying the emissions will assist the TCEQ in improving the region's air quality.

Helicopter flights will be conducted over oil and gas production areas in DeWitt, Dimmitt, Webb, Karnes, Live Oak and McMullen counties. The helicopter flights will conclude by Aug. 24.

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