Despite progress toward cleaner air, ozone still a concern for houston area electricity and magnetism quiz questions


Houston region faces more challenges in meeting increasingly stringent federal standards Sources: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Census Bureau, American Lung Association/Community Impact Newspaper

Drivers on certain roadways in Tomball and Magnolia experience heavy traffic congestion throughout the day, contributing to vehicular gas emissions and potentially affecting air quality. sources: Texas Department of Transportation, Texas A&M Transportation INstitute/community impact newspaper

While ground-level ozone is typically higher in the summer, levels can vary throughout the year. When ozone levels are high, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends residents consider staying inside to avoid negative health effects. Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Environmental Protection Agency /CommunityImpact Newspaper

From 2000 to 2016, the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria population increased 44 percent, while ground-level ozone levels improved by 29 percent, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Despite progress, Houston is not meeting EPA standards.

Houston-Galveston Area Council experts anticipate, under the EPA’s 2008 standards and based on previous years’ emissions, the EPA will reclassify Houston as “serious” this summer, meaning the region’s air quality has not improved enough to meet EPA rules.

The American Lung Association’s 2018 “State of the Air” report released April 17 ranked the Greater Houston area as No. 11 and No. 15, respectively, for having the highest levels of ozone and year-round particle pollution in the U.S. This is up from No. 12 and No. 16, respectively, in the nation in 2017.

The TCEQ released rules in the early 2000s regarding nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds—likely precursors to ozone formation—that have contributed to the decline in ozone in Houston, said Stuart Mueller, operations manager for Harris County Pollution Control Services.

TCEQ data collected in Tomball indicates the average ozone level was about 75 ppb and 73 ppb for the 2012-14 and 2015-17 periods, respectively. The WG Jones State Forest monitor shows the average ozone level was 78 ppb for the 2012-14 period before declining slightly to 77 ppb in 2015-17.

“[It] is enough for these particles to burrow deep within the lungs and possibly then enter the bloodstream,” he said. “Smaller animals that have increased respiratory rates are more at risk, and that goes for people as well. [Younger] people are more at risk.” Looking ahead

In addition to physical effects, environmental experts agree Houston’s inability to meet EPA standards can also be bad for the health of the economy. As the EPA is working to update its requirements—a process that began in 2015—researchers and companies have to prepare for the newer regulations.

However, President Donald Trump issued a memorandum April 12 to the EPA, noting standards have become more stringent, hindering industrial growth. The memo calls for the reform of implementing standards, among other items, to spur economic growth.

“These actions are intended to ensure that EPA carries out its core missions of protecting the environment and improving air quality in accord with statutory requirements, while reducing unnecessary impediments to new manufacturing and business expansion essential for a growing economy,” Trump wrote in the memorandum.