Selected tags: American Lung Association

State of the Air 2014: 19 Texas Counties Continue to Struggle with Ozone Pollution

State of the Air ALA 2014Last week, the American Lung Association (ALA) released its annual State of the Air report, which reviews air pollution data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for two of the most hazardous types of air pollution: ozone and particulate matter.

Overall findings indicate that ozone pollution increased in metropolitan areas throughout the nation due to warmer temperatures. At the same time, fine particle pollution, or soot as it is most commonly called, decreased due to fewer emissions from coal-fired power plants and wider use of cleaner fuels and engines.

For a primer on ozone pollution and health, read here.

Unfortunately, Houston crept up in the rankings to 6th most polluted for ozone in the country (up from 7th last year).  And with the exception of Dallas-Fort Worth, other cities in Texas followed the national ozone trend, reporting a greater number of unhealthy days this year. Texas cities did fare better on soot pollution, although a notable exception was El Paso, which was one of only five U.S. cities that saw an increase in year-round pollution. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Dallas Fort-Worth, Environment, Ozone, Particulate Matter| Tagged | Comments closed

Now You Can Use Your Smartphone To Check Houston Smog Levels

This post was written by Larry Soward, Air Alliance Houston Transition Director.

Source: Air Alliance Houston

Houston area residents can now track ozone pollution levels anytime, anywhere with a new groundbreaking Smartphone app created through a partnership between Air Alliance Houston, the American Lung Association Plains-Gulf Region, and the University of Houston Honors College.

This exciting new tool extends the resources already available through the Houston Clean Air Network website – the first real-time ozone website for the Houston region – developed by these three groups through a generous grant from the Houston Endowment. The Houston Clean Air Network website and now the Smartphone app enable citizens of the Houston region to get up-to-the-minute air quality information and take control over their own exposure to ozone, reducing the associated health effects.

The new “Ozone Map” app is available free on iPhone and iPad through the Apple App Store and on Android devices through Google Play.

Although individuals are currently able to check ozone values at monitor locations through various government agencies, that data available is typically about 1.5 hours old. This is important because ozone values can change quickly, and people in sensitive groups need to know actual exposure levels. “Ozone Map” provides a unique visual representation of how the real-time ozone levels are moving throughout the Houston area. Displayed much like a weather radar map, users can see the ozone “cloud” moving across the Houston area, as well as the ozone levels in different parts of the city. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Ozone| Also tagged , | 1 Response, comments now closed

While Texas Fares Better in Air Report, More Work Still Ahead

State of the Air ReportTexas air quality improved slightly last year, but more than half of the nation still suffers pollution levels that are often dangerous to breathe, according to the Annual State of the Air Report released today from the American Lung Association. The report reviewed levels of ozone and particle pollution found in monitoring sites across the United States in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Key National Findings:

  • More than 154 million people (over half the nation) suffer from pollution levels that exceed health-based federal standards.
  • Each of the 25 cities with the most ozone pollution improved their air quality over the past year’s report, however people living there still breathe air that reaches dangerous levels.
  • Particle pollution declined due to coal-fired power plant emission reductions and a transition to cleaner diesel fuels and engines.

Texas Findings:

  • Houston moved down from 7th to 8th place among the most ozone-polluted cities in the country, while Dallas-Fort Worth moved up from 13th to 12th place. (Note: There appears to be a correlation between rising ozone levels in DFW and increased levels of natural gas drilling. A Fort Worth report looking at gas drilling environmental impacts is due for release in June.)
  • 14 of the 38 Texas counties studied in the report received an F for having too many high ozone days (compared to 21 Texas counties receiving an F last year).
  • Harris County, with more than four million people, topped the Texas county list with 66 orange ozone days (unhealthy for sensitive populations), and 10 red ozone days (unhealthy for the general population). Tarrant County, with 1.7 million people, came in second with 59 orange ozone days, 4 red ozone days and one purple ozone day (very unhealthy for the general population). Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Environmental Protection Agency, Ozone, Particulate Matter| Also tagged , , , | 1 Response, comments now closed

This is No April Fool’s: Today Marks Beginning of Serious Season

Today kicks off the official ozone season, when higher ozone concentrations can make air unhealthy to breathe. The season of “smog” begins April 1 and lingers until October.

Last year many Texas counties got an “F” for high ozone levels by the American Lung Association: Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Galveston, Harris, Hood, Montgomery, Orange, Parker, Tarrant, Travis and more. Houston was ranked the 7th most ozone-polluted city in the country, with Dallas-Fort Worth not far behind, ranked at 13th.

What’s different this year? In Texas, there are more people, more cars, and more industry. Mixed with hot summer days, this may mean higher ozone concentrations, which can translate to more asthma, more bronchitis, more emphysema and more complications from cardiovascular disease.

In other words, we need to be more vigilant than ever about keeping ozone levels low. Along those lines, here are some simple steps that we can all take to do our part:

  • Make it a routine to look at the air quality index (AQI) before you plan your activities for the day.
  • Understand what the colors on the AQI mean when you hear them on the news and restrict outdoor activities accordingly: orange (unhealthy for sensitive populations); red (unhealthy for the general population); and purple (very unhealthy for the general population). Read More »

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