DFW air again gets F for ground-level ozone from American Lung Association
Both Dallas and Tarrant counties received a failing grade for ozone pollution in this year’s “State of the Air” report.
The American Lung Association said the two counties remain among the worst for ground-level ozone.
Ozone gas can irritate and inflame a person’s airways and lungs. Exposure to it “can also shorten lives,” according to the report.
The association puts out the analysis annually, and the latest version, released Wednesday, covers 2019 to 2021. It said the number of unhealthy, high ozone days in DFW was fewer than in last year’s report.
“We are still one of the most polluted cities in the nation,” said Charlie Gagen, advocacy director covering Texas and Oklahoma for the association.
Ground-level ozone forms when pollution like nitrogen oxides or volatile organic compounds combine under sunlight. The resulting gas can travel far from where it originally forms in the lower atmosphere.
As for harmful short-term particulate matter, DFW did see a reduction in its number of unhealthy days, although year-round levels were a bit higher than last year.
But getting an accurate picture of particle pollution can be difficult. The report uses data drawn from EPA monitors, and there are very few in North Texas that detect particulate matter. Plus, not all the EPA’s monitors are located near industrial polluters.
“Where they are in the county can have a big impact on what the data they collect is,” Gagen said.
Activists, colleges, and some local governments have been mounting low-cost air sensors on their own and displaying the readings on an online map. The map also shows the location of major air pollution permits.
The State of the Air report calls on the EPA to strengthen air pollution regulations. While the agency is currently proposing an annual standard of 9 to 10 micrograms per cubic meter for the fine, inhalable particles called PM 2.5, the report states it should be tougher.
“The new standard should be set at 8 micrograms per cubic meter annually … to protect those at greatest risk of harm,” it reads.
The association said residents can help reduce dirty air by walking and biking more, taking public transportation, or switching to an electric car. Local governments can help by transitioning their fleets to electric vehicles.
There is also an important role for state governments in cleaning up the air.
“At the state level, obviously it’s cracking down on big polluters, investing in electric vehicle charging stations,” Gagen said. "And then increasing renewable energy so that we’re less reliant on high-polluting energy.”
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