Smog Update: On the Brink

by jim on July 23, 2012

Strong winds are usually among the most efficient smog-stoppers DFW has. Despite this last week's record-setting heat wave, ozone levels didn't go crazy like they did in June because the winds kept blowing. Only the Rockwall monitor recorded an "exceedance" of the 1997 85 parts per billion ozone standard on Saturday, it's first of the season.

That makes 17 out of 20 DFW monitors that have at least one such exceedance of the 85 ppb standard. 11 of 20 have at least two. 7 out of 20 have at least three. And 2 out of 20 already have the four exceedances they need to be registered as a violation of the standard (a "non-attainment area" ozone monitor gets three strikes before the fourth-highest reading gets counted against it).

That means we're just one bad air day away from seeing five more monitors record their fourth exceedance and become violators. Two bad days away from having nine – and August is traditionally much worse for ozone than July.

In 2010, there were two monitors in violation of the 85 ppb standard. Last year there were seven. Industry and state government have been trying to tell the public DFW is still making air quality progress despite these numbers – that last year was just an anomaly because of the drought. Not sure how they'll spin another year of seven or more monitors out of whack with a 15-year old smog standard

Let's remind everyone again that according to Governor Perry's three TCEQ Commissioners, there were going to be no violations of the 85 ppb standard this year, that this is the second state plan in a row to fail to meet the 85 ppb standard, and that the new EPA smog standard is 75 ppb. Heck of a job TCEQ.

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