Outdoor Air Pollution
In general, the air in cities is more polluted than the air in the countryside,
and the Houston area has higher levels of outdoor air pollution than are
measured in most other cities in the U.S.
Outdoor pollution comes from many sources, including industry, cars and
trucks, and other sources such as gasoline stations, farm equipments, fires, and
outdoor pesticide use.
The Houston area has a larger industrial base than most similarly sized cities,
but vehicles are a major source of pollution as well. For many Houstonians,
vehicle pollution may be their largest source of exposure to outdoor pollution.
For more information about industrial and vehicle pollution in Houston and
potential health effects, visit:
The following are the primary outdoor air pollutants of concern in the
Houston area. The federal government has established health-based standards for
the first six pollutants in the list.
Foresight program, coordinated by the Houston Advanced Research Center,
ranked outdoor air in its "highest" category of health concern. The Houston area regularly violates the standards for ozone, and occasionally
violates the standards for particulate matter. Health problems, however, have
been observed at levels below the current federal standards, and the standards are regularly revised based on our growing understanding of the
relationships between air pollution and illness.
For the Houston region, the Houston-area
Quality Reference Guide provides information about these pollutants, the
federal standards and the levels found in the region's outdoor air. Daily
ozone warnings and daily
ozone forecasts are available through the Texas Commission on Environmental
website, as are current
ozone levels and
particulate matter levels. For more comprehensive air pollution data for Houston and the rest
of the United States, see
EPA's Air Database.
Several citizen groups have expressed concern over whether
EPA and TCEQ have fulfilled their responsibilities in bringing the region into
attainment of health-based air quality standards. Recently, attorney Jim Blackburn filed
a lawsuit on behalf the Galveston Bay Conservation Preservation Association over TCEQ's alleged failure to implement the Houston-Galveston state implementation
plan for controlling ozone air pollution in the Houston/Galveston area.
Click here for more information.