Beginning at noon on Saturday and continuing until 7pm, the air monitor in Frisco recorded a 75 parts per billion or higher level of ozone, a violation of the new smog standard just adopted by EPA. By evening it had come within less than 1 part per billion of violating the obsolete 85 ppb standard. It was the single highest ozone reading on a day in March since air monitoring for the pollutant began in DFW in the late 1990’s. A violation of the 85 ppb standard this early in the year would also have been an historic first because according to the government, “ozone season” doesn’t even officially start until April 1. What made it even more spectacular was that it was on a Saturday – traditionally not a high-ozone day of the week in DFW. Not an auspicious start to a year when we’re supposed to have the very lowest levels of ozone ever monitored, according to your Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. At least that’s what they told the EPA when they had to submit a plan for cleaning-up DFW ozone way back in December. It’s the miraculous new “free market new car pollution control measure” TCEQ has been touting for two years now that says so many more local residents will buy newer, cleaner cars that the air will reach almost Alpine purity by September. Unfortunately for Austin, all it took was some unseasonably warm weather in March (just an anomaly we’re sure) to consign that prediction to the ash heap of previous TCEQ predictions about improving air quality in DFW. To achieve TCEQ’s prediction for better 2012 ozone levels, Frisco’s air monitor can’t record anything higher than a 58 ppb  8-hour average this year. Yesterday, it was at 84.24 at the end of the worst eight hours that saw readings go as high as 96 ppb. Given the weather forecast for the rest of the week, it’s not unthinkable that we’ll have our first violation of that old 85 standard before April begins. We would say we told you so, but really, how smart do you have to be to know that another TCEQ optimistic prediction about DFW air quality would fail miserably right out of the gate?

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