(This post was written by Grace Tee Lewis, EDF’s Kravis Postdoctoral Science Fellow)
August in Texas is not for the weak of heart or lung.
As temperatures rise, so do levels of air pollutants such as ground-level ozone – better known as smog. For those with asthma, being outside on high ozone days can lead to asthma attacks. Children, older adults and people who work outside are the most susceptible.
In Texas, asthma affects roughly 1 in 13 adults and 1 in 11 children. In 2014, this represented 1.4 million Texans aged 18 years or older and 617,000 children according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
This post originally appeared in La Voz de Esperanza.
For years now, San Antonio residents have endured unhealthy levels of ozone in the air we breathe. Yet, the city of San Antonio has narrowly avoided violating the US Environmental Protection Agency’s national ozone standards, designed to protect human health. But San Antonio will soon have to make changes to its approach to air quality.
In October of last year, the EPA, responding to the findings of recent health studies, lowered the maximum allowable ozone level. On April 8 of this year, San Antonio exceeded that threshold, which means our region is not meeting EPA’s ozone air quality standards.
This matters because ground-level ozone can affect our health and often has disproportionate impacts on racial and ethnic minorities. The good news is that there are lots of ways to reduce ozone. Read More
Yudith Nieto, shown here holding an an air sampler in the Manchester neighborhood of Houston, was named to a national climate justice panel.
Environmental justice is a top priority for many millennials. And one young, Houston-based organizer is demonstrating her generation’s effectiveness by leading the way on this important issue.
Community groups play an important role in bolstering young leaders. Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS), based in Houston’s Manchester neighborhood, supports residents in efforts to create sustainable and environmentally healthy communities by providing education and resources. They recognize millennial leadership on environmental justice issues, and often work with young organizers in their efforts to educate and engage community members on environmental laws and policy. Read More
There is robust agreement on the dangers of ozone pollution in the medical health community.
Part I of our series on ozone described how 2015 was a bad year for Houston ozone. Part II reviewed recent research from leading Houston scientists that explains why more ozone pollution is harmful to our health. Part III explains how faulty logic and erroneous assumptions had led to costly lawsuits and poor public health policy across the state. Part IV will identify some solutions to Houston’s ozone problem and suggest measures to protect the health of Houston area residents.
There has been quite a bit of activity related to the proposed U.S. ozone regulations in the past year. As part of a four part series on ozone in 2015, we’d like to take the time to rebuke some of the scientifically-flawed testimony provided by state environmental officials, including Dr. Michael Honeycutt, toxicologist for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the state environmental agency. We feel that the agency has presented health information in a way that is misleading and contradicts the robust opinion of the medical health community on the issue.
First, a little context is important. We at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have participated in the public process involving the ozone standard and provided testimony to Congress on the health effects of ozone exposure. TCEQ has challenged the health-based standards in an aggressive way, and their efforts have been fodder for expensive and frivolous lawsuits filed by the state. Read More
Texas Southern University Students Jenice Young, Joy Semien and Steven Washington Attended COP21 in Paris
The Texas Clean Air Matters team is thrilled to share that the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Climate Change Consortium sent 50 student leaders from around the United States to the U.N. COP21 climate summit in Paris, three of whom are Texas Southern University students awarded with the Mickey Leland Scholarship. These students represent future environmentalists, who could have a large impact on the future of Texas in terms of solving the climate crisis. This delegation of students was able to witness the construction of the agreement and had a chance to see countries reach a historic agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stabilizing global temperatures. You can read more about them in this guest post by Dr. Robert Bullard, one of the foremost experts on environmental justice in the world.
EDF is excited these students had such an amazing opportunity and to witness first hand climate diplomacy in action. Read More
Also posted in Climate Change
Earlier this month, Juan Parras, founder and director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (Tejas), was recognized as the 2015 recipient of the Robert Bullard Environmental Justice Award by the Sierra Club. Juan has worked for decades in Houston and along the Gulf Coast to improve the health and welfare of communities and is known for his dedication, courage, and optimism. Juan has been committed to improving the lives of those most affected by environmental degradation and is driven by his powerful vision and understanding of socioeconomic, gender, and racial justice issues.
As Environmental Protection Agency is set to release two vitally important standards next week to protect public health – first, updated emissions standards for petroleum refineries and second, a strengthened ground-level ozone standard – the Houston region will benefit tremendously from Juan’s leadership. These are important developments, but more needs to be done to address pressing environmental justice concerns. Environmental Defense Fund congratulates Juan on this deserving recognition and looks forward to even more improvements in air and health for Houston residents.
Photo source: Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services