In the News
Austin area nears ozone-pollution overload
Monday, September 10, 2012
The Austin area is once again just a single bad-ozone day away from violating federal air quality standards. But even with the worst part of ozone-pollution season still ahead, residents and businesses can help keep the area’s air quality in check.
Ozone pollution results when emissions from industrial facilities, electric utilities, vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents are baked in sunlight. Ground-level ozone, even at low levels, can cause adverse health effects, especially for those with lung disease, and in children, older adults and people who are active outdoors.
If air-quality readings during the current season measure another eight-hour ozone concentration of 79 parts or more per billion in the monitored area, Travis County will have violated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ozone air quality standard for 2012. A violation could put the entire metropolitan area, including Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties and possibly Burnet County at risk of being designated a “nonattainment area” area by the EPA, potentially triggering changes such as new pollution-control measures and greater requirements in regional transportation-planning to help ensure compliance with air quality standards.
Businesses and residents can help limit ozone pollution by reducing combustion-related activities on predicted high-ozone days. Steps such as reducing electricity use during afternoons and early evenings, avoiding rush-hour traffic, postponing running errands until after sunset and offering flexible schedules that curb traffic congestion on predicted high-ozone days make a difference.
As part of the EPA-led Ozone Advance Program, a national initiative involving states, tribes and local governments, CAPCOG's Air Quality Program is working with the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition and other stakeholders on an enhanced emission reduction plan to be submitted next year.
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