Austin Under Air Quality Watch
By Tyler Pratt
Central Texas is under an ozone watch today and Friday.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality usually issues watches during the summer months when the temperatures are higher and humidity is lower. And so far this year the area is already dangerously close to exceeding EPA standards. The amount of ozone in Austin’s air is at an average of 74 parts per billion. If that average jumps to 75, the area will be in non-compliance, said TCEQ meteorologist Bryan Lambeth.
“If we get one day at one site in particular — our Northwest Austin site has a 79 part per billion 8 hour average or higher — one more at that level will throw us into non-compliance,” Lambeth said.
Central Texas is experiencing levels similar to last year, but we’re not out of ozone season yet. That’s why Lambeth hopes Central Texans will take steps to reduce ozone emissions.
“Most of the emissions in Austin come from vehicle traffic,” Lambeth said. “So reducing the amount of travel that you do in your car, car-pooling as much as possible, riding a bike if you want — these are all actions that people can take to reduce ozone levels.
The ozone watch is designated as Level Orange. This means the air quality may be unhealthy for sensitive groups. Young children and the elderly may be affected, as well as people with chronic lung disease, asthma and emphysema. Runners may want to wait until this evening to hit the trails.