ALA’s State of the Air Report: We’re Still Breathing Dirty Air

by jim on April 27, 2012

This annual effort was released this week and relies on data from 2008, 2009, and 2010. In other words, it does not include last summer’s horrific ozone season, the worst in five years, and the one that had Dallas taking away the title of worst air in Texas from Houston.

Even without those numbers, air quality in the DFW metromess is ranked 12th worst in the country out of 277 metro areas, while Houston is ranked 8th. It also gives a pass to DFW on particulate matter, despite seeing levels that have been associated with strokes. This is because the metrics the ALA uses rely on federal standards – as long as you’re above those standards, it gives you a passing grade. But now science tells us that those standards are not protective, so take these kinds of assurances with appropriate grains of salt.

Look at the year-by-year charts for DFW pollution. The good news is that both ozone and PM levels started to fall dramatically around 2006-7 – perhaps as a result of the last semi-competent air plan that was implemented during this timeframe. Change is possible. We can find ways to clean the air when we want to. The bad news is that since that plan was adopted and carried out, there’s been no follow-up by the state, and no attempt to reign-in the air pollution from the gas industry, which has almost doubled in the last six to seven years. This is why ozone numbers climbed last year and it’s also why many of us predict that this summer will see no relief from our chronic ozone pollution. Next year’s State of the Air report will not be as kind.

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