Author Archives: Marcelo Norsworthy

Part IV: Reducing Pollution to Protect Houston’s Health

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Houston must demonstrate clear political will and a strong commitment to make health a top priority.

In Part I of our series on ozone, we described how 2015 was a bad year for Houston ozone, and in Part II we shared research from local scientists that explains which health risks go up when ozone levels are high in Houston. Part III deconstructed some of the flawed arguments and logic put forward by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) in challenging the health-based standard. Now, in Part IV, we’ll take a look at how Houston can breathe cleaner air by reducing emissions and implementing response strategies.

Houston has always been a solution-oriented city, and that’s how we hope leaders will approach the ozone challenge. The air quality data, health studies, and growth trends make it clear that Houston needs to double down on efforts to reduce ozone pollution. The region also needs better planning to ensure that emergency responders have the best information available to protect the health of all residents, especially on high ozone days. Read More »

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Researchers Highlight Air Quality Ideas for Ports

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Shore power is a promising alternative allows ships to plug into the local electricity grid and reduce harmful emissions.

For ports that commit to reduce emissions and improve air quality, figuring out the best way forward can be challenging – the sheer volume of information on the subject may be overwhelming if you don’t know where to get started.

Fortunately, research facilitated by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) can help ports and terminals get up to speed on the latest breakthroughs in emissions technologies and clean air strategies.

Two weeks ago, TRB held its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC and welcomed more than 13,000 of the world’s top transportation researchers, practitioners, and stakeholders. The conference highlighted some of the top trends in transportation, and shared leading research on topics including air quality modeling, emissions control technologies, and environmental policy reviews. Texas ports can learn much from the air quality ideas presented at TRB – whether from the peer-reviewed research or insights from experienced panelists.

Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Ports, Uncategorized| Tagged , , | Comments are closed

Part II: Studies Show Health Risks Associated with More Ozone Pollution

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High ozone days, particularly in sequence, increase the risk of an asthma attack requiring EMS intervention.

In Part I of our series on ozone, we described how 2015 was a bad year for Houston ozone. Why does this matter? In Part II, we’re reviewing recent research from leading Houston scientists that explains why more ozone pollution is harmful to our health.

Scientists have known for a long time that ground-level ozone, or smog, is harmful to human health. Smog is associated with adverse health effects like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and lung disease. Children, the elderly, and individuals that spend lots of active time outdoors are even more susceptible to high ozone levels and thus considered sensitive populations.

Fortunately, recent research on exposure to lower levels of ozone prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this year to strengthen the national health-based standard to 70 parts per billion (ppb). The new standard means cleaner air and healthier lungs in Houston, where studies from area scientists have demonstrated local, negative health implications of high ozone levels. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Environmental Protection Agency, Ozone, TCEQ, Uncategorized| Tagged | Read 1 Response

Part I: Why Are Houston’s 2015 Ozone Levels Cause for Concern?

This is Part I of our four-part series on Houston ozone and how it affects your health.

ozone image 2 1.20.16

Ozone pollution affects everyone, no matter where they live.

Though the region has made progress on air quality in recent years, Houston suffered a setback in 2015 with a significant spike in its ozone levels. Ozone, also known as smog, is harmful to health and can result in respiratory symptoms such as cough and chest tightness. And with considerable industrial and population growth expected in the next few years, experts are understandably worried about public health risks.

To protect public health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets national standards for ozone concentrations, or limits on the amount of harmful ozone pollution in the air. In 2008, EPA strengthened the standard to 75 parts per billion (ppb), and this year the agency set a more protective standard of 70ppb. A lower number means there is less smog – and less smog means cleaner, healthier air. (In order to evaluate the public’s exposure to ozone, scientists and health officials look at regional monitoring data to determine when ozone levels exceed those federal health-based standards. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Environmental Protection Agency, Houston, Ozone| Tagged , | Read 1 Response

New Guide Helps Ports and Terminals Clean the Air and Save Energy

A new EDF guide shows ways  Ports and Terminals can save energy and clean up the air.

A new EDF guide shows ways ports and terminals can save energy and clean up the air.

The freight transportation industry is growing – and so is interest in adopting environmentally-friendly green freight approaches.

That’s why EDF is proud to release its new Clean Air Guide for Ports & Terminals: Technologies and Strategies to Reduce Emissions and Save Energy. The guide highlights institutional frameworks, technology upgrades, and operational improvements that have been effective in reducing energy use and harmful emissions from the freight industry. Landlord ports, operating ports, and marine terminal operators will all find models of initiatives they can implement at their own facilities. Community and advocacy groups also can identify best practices in the industry and work with their port partners to collaboratively implement some of these strategies at a nearby terminal. Read More »

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Houston Ozone Season Demonstrates Improvements Still Needed

SignboardAirQualityHouston_wikipediaOzone season in Houston runs from March 1 to November 30 each year, meaning we’re nearing the tail end of the season – a good time to take a look at how the region has fared.

To date this year, the Houston region has had 25 days where the ozone concentration in at least one monitor (includes regulatory and non-regulatory monitors) has exceeded the current health-based standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb). This includes a string of five consecutive unhealthy air days in late August. The 75 ppb level is the highest measurement at which EPA currently considers the air to be safe and healthy for all individuals. Assuming no additional exceedances, Houston’s 3-year design value, which is an average of air quality measurements and how the region is measured against the standard, is on track to be 80 ppb for the period of 2013-2015.

Why does this matter? Exposure to ozone is associated with health concerns and most commonly affects the lungs and the respiratory system. Airways can become inflamed and can result in coughing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath, along with many other symptoms. You can reduce your exposure to dangerous concentrations of ozone by limiting your time outdoors during high ozone days and understanding how ozone can affect your health. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Ozone| Read 1 Response
  • About the author

    Research Analyst
    Marcelo works on air pollution issues related to seaports and the freight movement sector of transportation. He has developed and analyzed metrics for estimating emissions at ports, worked with EDF’s corporate partners on leveraging their support for pollution mitigation programs, conducted an evaluation of clean truck programs, and partnered with the U.S. EPA and other federal agencies on transportation sustainability.

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    Confluence of SJR, Old, and Middle rivers

    Advocating for healthier air and cleaner energy in Texas through public education and policy influence.

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