Ozone Levels in 2015: What Can We Learn from the Data?

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The greater Houston region has been working for many years to meet EPA’s health-based standard for ozone. Over the past 15 years, we have seen significant decreases in both ozone levels and the number of days that the standard was exceeded in Houston. In fact, 2014 was our cleanest year on record.

Ozone Levels in 2015

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The greater Houston region has been working for many years to meet EPA’s health-based standard for ozone. Over the past 15 years, we have seen significant decreases in both ozone levels and the number of days that the standard was exceeded in Houston.

Ozone Levels in 2015: Did Wildfires Play A Role?

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Scientists are still working to understand the reason for the higher ozone. We know that weather is a key factor that drives ozone formation. Some years have more days with hot, dry, stagnant weather that can contribute to more days with high ozone.

Ozone Pollution Standards for Houston’s Air

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This graph illustrates the changes to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone pollution over the past 26 years and Houston’s compliance with this standard.

Sulfur Dioxide

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What is Sulfur Dioxide? Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is one of a group of highly reactive gasses known as “oxides of sulfur.”  Short-term exposures to SO2 can harm the human respiratory system and make breathing difficult. Children, the elderly, and those who suffer from asthma are particularly sensitive to effects of SO2. Where is Sulfur Dioxide Found? The largest sources of SO2 emissions are from fossil fuel combustion at power plants (73%) and … Continued

Carbon Monoxide

What is Carbon Monoxide? Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is a by-product of combustion.  CO can cause harmful health effects by reducing oxygen delivery to the body’s organs (like the heart and brain) and tissues.  At extremely high levels, CO can cause death. Where is CO Found? Nationally and especially in urban areas, the majority of outdoor CO is emitted by mobile sources such as cars, … Continued

Nitrogen Dioxide

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Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is one of a group of reactive gasses known as “oxides of nitrogen,” or “nitrogen oxides (NOx).”   Other nitrogen oxides include nitrous acid and nitric acid, but the U.S. EPA has established health-based standards for only NO2. NO2 is also significant because it contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone and fine particle pollution.

Lead

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Lead is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in the earth’s crust. While it has some beneficial uses, it can be toxic to humans and animals, causing severe health effects. Lead exposure can damage almost every system in the body, and at high levels can cause death.