Texas 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.
- 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