Friday, July 17, 2015

That's Not Fresh Air You're Breathing In San Antonio

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 12:05 PM

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San Antonio is still on the fast-track toward violating air quality standards.

Brenda Williams, Interim Director of Natural Resources at the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG), says in a press release that “several months still remain in the ozone season, with the worst peaks in ozone typically occurring in September. It will be a challenge to remain in compliance with the current standards through the end of the season.” 

The area’s most prevalent form of air pollution, ozone, tends to spike throughout the summer months, from April to September. If measurements were taken today — smack dab in the middle of the ozone season — the Alamo City would be in compliance, but dangerously close to violating EPA air standards.

Even more worrisome, the EPA is expected to lower the acceptable threshold for ozone to somewhere between 65 and 70 parts per billion in October. Next year’s clean air status will be based on these new standards.

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), if the new limit is set at 65 ppb, the Alamo City would be breaking the law.

“Keeping our levels of air pollution down is a challenge that requires a shared commitment from regional agencies and businesses, as well as individuals,” Williams says.

Penalties for not meeting EPA air quality standards could include anything from costly air quality controls placed on businesses to personal vehicle emission tests, the San Antonio Current previously reported. When the new standards are finalized, TCEQ will have one year to present designation recommendations to the EPA.

To be in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for the Clean Air Act, cities must maintain an ozone ground-level lower than 76 ppb over a three year average.

Ozone concentrations are measured throughout San Antonio-New Braunfels Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) at the three regulatory sites: San Antonio Northwest, Camp Bullis and Calaveras Lake.

Ozone is a highly reactive form of oxygen that can be found both at the upper levels of the atmosphere and at ground levels. At higher elevation, the gas acts as a protective blanket by preventing harmful radiation from reaching earth. Ground level ozone is a pollutant and is associated with several health problems such as asthma, according to Nature World News.

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