Happy Ozone Non-Attainment Day!

by jim on June 27, 2012

Ozone Non-Attainment Day is a traditional annual DFW event. Every summer there's a day when one or more air quality monitors records its fourth "exceedence" of whatever national ozone standard the region is violating. Then and only then does the monitor officially violate the Clean Air Act and put DFW in "Non-Attainment" of clean air once again.

Gifts of inhalers, oxygen tanks, and emergency room visits are often exchanged by family members and friends on and around the actual day of Non-Attainment.

This year Governor Perry and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality made sure our Ozone Non-Attainment Day arrived extra early. Usually, we don't see it come until August. In fact, ever since ozone monitoring began in 1997, there's only been one other year when it came as early as this year.

In 2006, we had Non-Attainment day on June 14th. Boy, that was a doozy of a summer – 12 out of 19 monitors eventually tripping. Think this one might be as big? It's sure possible.

One sign is that the monitor that triggered this year's Non-Attainment Day is the historic Hinton Street site near Mockingbird and I-35.  This particular monitor hasn't even recorded a violation of the Clean Air Act since 2005 so welcome back Hinton Street! But this site has a long and storied Non-Attainment history.  The Hinton Street monitor recorded violations for five years straight during some of the worst smog pollution DFW has ever seen, from 2000 to 2005, with some of those years seeing 14 out of 18 monitoring sites recording violations.

So Hinton Street monitor violations are associated with really bad air. So are Non-Attainment Days that arrive in June. We could have one long hellacious summer ozone pollution episode ahead of us this year. Maybe even a return to double-digit monitors in violation. Isn't it exciting?

You may want to send Non-Attainment Day greetings to Governor Perry and TCEQ Chair Bryan Shaw, since it was their idea of watching people buy newer cars as a pollution control strategy, along with ignoring the large increase in smog-forming pollution from the natural gas industry, that made this June Non-Attainment Day possible. (Downwinders reminds you to please breathe responsibly).

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