What can small businesses and citizens do to improve air quality?

Daily activities, such as driving, refueling, lawn mowing, painting, and the use of pesticides and high-nitrogen fertilizers, emit ozone-forming and other pollutants. Frequently, consumer products (carpeting, furniture, paints, etc.) and the services we use (dry cleaning, lawn care, etc.) also emit ozone-forming pollutants into the air. With a population of more than six million in the region, the total of all the individual activities and products create a significant portion … Continued

How do businesses and industry “clean” the air?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires areas failing to attain one or more of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to prepare and execute a State Implementation Plan (SIP). The SIP is a blueprint of how the state will achieve compliance with the NAAQS by the compliance date. The Clean Air Act requires the state to revise the SIP regularly to incorporate new information as it becomes available. Only … Continued

How costly is it to improve air quality in Houston?

Air pollution can be costly in terms of expenses for increased health care and property damage, as well as less tangible costs, such as decreased property values and diminished quality of life. Some of these costs are paid directly by individuals or businesses, and some are paid indirectly through insurance and decreased productivity. Air pollution control measures are costly in terms of expenditures for installation, operation, maintenance, monitoring, and recordkeeping. … Continued

Does pollution from outside the Houston region affect our air quality?

Scientists have known for some time that increasing amounts of air pollution come from outside the U.S. Pollutants from Asia, such as ozone and particulate matter, are carried across the oceans at high altitudes and deposited across western states. Houston is often impacted by pollutants coming from Mexico and even as far away as Africa (read more about this at https://houstonairquality.com/texas-is-in-central-american-smoke-season-will-it-impact-houston/). With the growth of the global economy, overseas pollutants … Continued

What areas of the Houston region are subject to these federal regulations?

The nonattainment region for the 2008 ozone standard contains the following counties: Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will likely recommend that this same region be designated as the nonattainment region for the newer 2015 ozone standard.

What are the penalties if Houston does not meet the regulatory standards?

Once the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determines that a metro area is out of compliance with the standard, they designate the area as nonattainment. The levels of nonattainment are: (from lowest to highest) marginal, moderate, serious, severe and extreme. Since the Houston area was originally assigned the designation of “marginal nonattainment” for being out of compliance with the 2008 ozone standard, a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to demonstrate air quality … Continued

How is the air in Houston monitored?

With more than 45 ozone air monitors, Houston has the most extensive monitoring network in the country. Federal, state and local agencies collect air samples throughout the year to measure the concentration of individual compounds in the air. With a large amount of monitors, scientists have a comprehensive understanding of the state of air quality in the Houston area. In addition to measuring the six major air pollutants that are … Continued

How often do the national air quality standards change?

Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to conduct periodic review of the air quality standards and the science upon which they are based. The CAA requires EPA to review the ozone standard every five years. The review is a lengthy process and includes several major steps. Once the EPA has completed this review, they determine whether to take action to introduce a new … Continued

When does Houston need to meet the ozone regulations?

Since the Houston area is in compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for five air pollutants – particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and lead – businesses, industry and governmental entities in Houston are working together to maintain compliance with these five standards and to address nonattainment for the ground level ozone standard. The current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 8-hour ozone standard of 75 ppb … Continued

Why do we need these air quality regulations?

Under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency establishes primary and secondary national standards for air quality. The National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) primary standards set limits to protect public health, including the health of sensitive populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. The NAAQS secondary standards set limits to protect public welfare, including protection against decreased visibility (haze), damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings.