The Texas Commission on Environmental Equality (TCEQ) recently released the 2012 Air Pollutant Watch List (APWL) Report.
The APWL is a list of areas in the state where concentrations of harmful pollutants exceed the state’s own health-based screening level guidelines. Some of the APWL areas have been listed for over a decade – this is important as exposure to these toxics may impact human health and may lead to serious health outcomes such as birth defects or cancer. Recognizing the need to reduce air toxics, TCEQ has adopted a formal protocol for remediating these areas.
The 2012 report outlines 11 active areas where air toxics were measured consistently at concentrations indicating a level of potential health concern. The report also discusses what the agency is doing to address those areas, which involves focusing investigations on specific facilities, and working with local stakeholders to reduce emissions. As the number of APWL areas has decreased since the first report issued in 2010, it appears that the agency is making some progress in remediating APWL areas. TCEQ proposed delisting Bastrop from the AWPL for hydrogen sulfide, for example, and also reported that benzene levels in Galena Park and Port Arthur have decreased.
We applaud the progress that the agency has made in addressing these hotspot areas, though we recognize that there is much more work to be done. We look forward to working with TCEQ to remediate these areas. We also believe that there may be other areas around the state not currently classified as hotspots (such as Corpus Christi and Midlothian) that are in need of environmental remediation. Let’s make sure that Texas is a healthy place to live!