Texas climbed higher among the national “worst ozone” rankings list, but most of the nation continued on a long-term trend toward much healthier air, according to the Annual State of the Air Report released this week from the American Lung Association (ALA).
The report reviewed air pollution data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for two of the most hazardous types of pollution: ozone and particle pollution.
Key National Findings:
- More than 131 million people (42 percent of the U.S. population) live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution.
- Los Angeles has cut one-third of its unhealthy ozone days since first the State of the Air report came out in 2000.
- Eighteen cities had lower year-round levels of particle pollution, including 16 cities with their lowest levels recorded.
Key Texas Findings:
- Unfortunately Houston-Baytown-Huntsville ranked 7th place among the most ozone-polluted cities in the country, and Dallas-Fort Worth made a huge leap to 8th place nationally from 13th place just two years ago. Harris County also failed with regard to annual particle pollution.
- Fifteen Texas Counties received a grade of “F” for ozone pollution:
- Harris County (67 orange level ozone days, 10 red)
- Dallas County (34 orange level ozone days, 4 red)
- Bexar County
- Brazoria County
- Collin County
- Denton County
- Galveston County
- Gregg County
- Hood County
- Jefferson County
- Johnson County
- Montgomery County
- Orange County
- Rockwall County
- Tarrant County
- On a more positive note, Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville made two of the “cleanest U.S. cities” list for ozone and short-term particle pollution.
- To find out if your Texas town is on the most polluted list, visit the ALA site.
As mentioned in a previous Texas Clean Air Matters post, we believe that Texas has the capability to reduce air pollution levels throughout the state. However, there is – as always – much work to be done. Our health depends on it.
What needs to be done (Source: ALA):
- Clean up harmful emissions from tailpipes.
- Clean up harmful emissions from smokestacks.
- Reduce emissions of wood smoke.
- Improve the air pollution monitoring network.
- Adopt an ozone standard that follows the law and protects health.
- Protect the Clean Air Act.
What individuals can do:
- Send a message to EPA. Tell the agency you support stronger standards for ozone and particle pollution to limit how much of those pollutants can be in the air.
- Drive less. Combine trips, walk, bike, carpool or vanpool, and use buses, subways or other alternatives to driving.
- Don’t burn wood or trash. Burning firewood and trash are among the largest sources of particles in many parts of the country.
- Make sure your local school system requires clean school buses, which includes replacing or retrofitting old buses.
- Get involved. Participate in your community’s review of its air pollution plans and support state and local efforts to clean up air pollution. To find your local air pollution control agency, go to www.4cleanair.org.
- Use less electricity. Turn out the lights and use energy-efficient appliances.