Smell That? Air Quality in Texas Worst in 10 Years
Does the air seem hazy to you this summer? Well, it's not your imagination.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reports that this year, there have been more days with unhealthy levels of smog pollution than we've had since 2012.
Why is Texas Air Quality Getting Worse?
A combination of factors are to blame for the harmful levels of ozone in the air across the state. Our recent record-high temperatures in Texas mixed with industrial and vehicle emissions make ozone levels rise.
KTRK is reporting that as of this week, Texas air monitors have recorded 43 days since January of this year when ozone concentrations were high enough somewhere in the state to be considered unhealthy by the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, that's the highest number from January through June in ten years.
Why is Ozone Dangerous?
Texas heat does more than make us uncomfortable. The high temps that can increase ozone levels are also dangerous for our health. If you notice there are certain days when it seems hard to take a deep breath, it could be the high level of ozone in the air.
When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs, and even fairly low amounts of ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and throat irritation. It can also make chronic respiratory diseases like asthma worse, and decrease your body's ability to fight respiratory infections, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
This summer, dozens of warnings have been issued across Texas, advising people with asthma, older adults, and others at risk of lung complications to stay indoors on days when smog levels are projected to be high.
What is Texas Doing About Air Quality?
The EPA has proposed a rule that would require about two dozen states, including Texas, to cut ozone pollution from power plants and industrial sources like natural gas pipelines and chemical companies.