Houston area monitor exceeds 1 hour ozone standard

This month the Houston area Park Place air monitor crossed a significant threshold – concentrations of ozone were so high that the monitor violated the 3-year average for the national 1 hour ozone standard. Even though the EPA revoked the 1hr standard several years ago, opting to rely on a more stringent 8 hr standard alone to protect public health, the Houston area is still required to meet the 1hr standard (it’s part of an anti-backsliding rule, which means that even though a standard has been revoked, you must still meet the standard). Only a handful of places in the Unites States continue to violate the 1 hr ozone standard that was established first in 1971- the Houston area is one of them and currently has had the highest 1hr exceedances this year than any other place in the country. In fact, Houston hasn’t met the 1hr standard for any year since the standard was issued. While the Houston area has made strides in improving air quality, the data indicate that we have a very long way to go toward improving air quality in this state. Improving air quality will be easier when we have more reliable data on the emissions that come from facilities. A recent study by researchers from the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides support to mounting evidence that the emissions from facilities around the Houston ship channel are significantly underreported – these underreported releases contribute to the on-going extreme emission events that occur in the region, resulting in violations of the ozone standard and the continued public health threat that exists from air pollution in Texas.

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