Our Story

Once considered the nation’s smog capital, Houston has long had air pollution problems, largely due to the many industrial plants operating along the Houston Ship Channel and because of the city’s substantial vehicle traffic, both of which emit large volumes of pollutants into our air every day.

Founded as the Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention, Air Alliance Houston has been working to improve air quality in Houston for more than 25 years. Take a look at our timeline to learn how it all began in 1988.


    A few concerned residents join forces to form a group to prevent and eliminate smog in the Houston region. They named the group GHASP: the Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention. Out of this grassroots effort, GHASP becomes a Texas nonprofit corporation in 1992.

  • Mothers for Clean Air

    Another Texas nonprofit, Mothers for Clean Air (MfCA), is formed with the purpose of providing community-based outreach and advocacy.

  • Ozone Theater

    Mothers for Clean Air debuts Ozone Theater. From this time through 2019, tens of thousands of students have learned about unhealthy air and its impact on health. In 2007, the program receives an EPA “Clean Air Excellence Award.”

  • John D. Wilson and Jane Laping

    John D. Wilson becomes Executive Director of GHASP and Jane Laping becomes Executive Director of MfCA.

  • Air Exchange Meetings

    GHASP and Mothers for Clean Air begin to host monthly Air Exchange meetings where Houston residents get to hear from and engage with local environmental experts and policymakers. The meetings are organized every month from 2004 through 2010.

  • Earth Day Celebration

    MfCA begins hosting the largest Earth Day celebration in Houston. MfCA, and later Air Alliance Houston, continues to host the event from 2004 through 2016. An Annual Earth Day Art Auction is established to support AAH education outreach programs and to provide scholarships to local schools and students.

  • City Hall

    The GHASP Executive Director John Wilson and Board Members are invited to Houston City Hall to educate Houston Mayor Bill White on the state of Houston’s air quality following the Houston Chronicle’s landmark news series, In Harm’s Way. The Mayor commissions a study outlining air pollutants that pose the biggest health risks in the Greater Houston Area and the neighborhoods in which the risks are highest.

  • Reducing Flare Emissions White Paper

    A GHASP-affiliated group, Industry Professionals for Clean Air, produces a White Paper, Reducing Flare Emissions from Chemical Plants and Refineries: An Analysis of Industrial Flares’ Contribution to the Gulf Coast Region’s Air Pollution Problem, which is used by the U.S. EPA to modify flaring rules for petroleum refineries.

  • Sabrina Strawn

    Sabrina Strawn is named as the Executive Director of GHASP.

  • Dr. Matthew Tejada

    Dr. Matthew Tejada follows Sabrina Strawn as GHASP’s new Executive Director.


    GHASP and MfCA decide to join together as one organization: GHASP/MfCA. The previous activities of GHASP and MfCA fit together like pieces in a puzzle. The new organization combines and strengthens the goals of both organizations: to influence public policy on air quality and environmental health issues in order to protect the health of residents and improve their quality of life.

  • Matthew Tejada – GHASP/MfCA

    Dr. Matthew Tejada is appointed as the Executive Director of the newly merged GHASP/MfCA.

  • GHASP/MfCA Results

    Results from GHASP/MfCA’s community-based ozone monitoring network prompt UH-Sugar Land to install ozone monitors that are quickly incorporated into the TCEQ’s monitoring network.

  • AAH forms

    In January 2010, the new organization is renamed as Air Alliance Houston (AAH). Air Alliance Houston’s mission is to reduce the public health impacts from air pollution through research, education, and advocacy.

  • HPCC

    In November 2012, Air Alliance Houston, together with partner organizations, launches the Healthy Port Communities Coalition (HPCC). Today, the HPCC continues to be a strong voice in advocating for the health and wellbeing of Houston’s portside communities disproportionately impacted by pollution from the Houston Ship Channel.

  • Adrian Shelley

    Dr. Matthew Tejada becomes Director of the Office of Environmental Justice of the US EPA. Adrian Shelley is appointed as the new Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston.

  • Galena Park Report

    Air Alliance Houston publishes the final report and results of a year-long community air monitoring project at Galena Park. The results show unacceptable health risks due to diesel and particulate matter pollution and recommend several steps to reduce the residents’ exposure.

  • Anti-Idling Ordinance

    Air Alliance Houston helps pass anti-idling ordinances for heavy diesel vehicles in the cities of Houston, Galena Park and Jacinto City, and subsequently launches anti-idling campaign in the city of Pasadena. Avoiding idling time has multiple benefits, including reducing air pollution exposure, in particular that of children who breathe closer to the ground and therefore closer to vehicle tailpipes.

  • Petroleum Refinery Sector Rule

    Intensive advocacy by Air Alliance Houston and other groups, starting with a lawsuit filed against the EPA in 2012 and subsequent benzene monitoring study in Galena Park, play a central role in the promulgation of a new EPA “Petroleum Refinery Sector Rule.” This legislation will reduce air emissions from petroleum refineries and install fenceline monitoring systems to protect neighboring communities.

  • Lindale

    Air Alliance Houston initiates its community engagement and advocacy efforts to limit concrete batch plants and their siting close to schools, parks and homes. AAH participates in community meetings with Lindale Farms neighbors to protest against the polluting activities and the around-the-clock noise of the Integrity Ready Mix and Aurora Ready Mix concrete batch plants.

  • OBP

    Air Alliance Houston partners with other environmental groups to establish a collaborative effort, branded One Breath Partnership (OBP), in order to elevate awareness about the harmful effects of air pollution by amplifying the work of local researchers and encouraging affected residents to share their stories.

  • Bakeyah

    Dr. Bakeyah S. Nelson becomes the first woman of color to lead Air Alliance Houston in March 2017.

  • CEER

    Recognizing the need to ensure a more equitable and resilient future for the region post-Hurricane Harvey, Dr. Nelson and Jennifer Powis (The Powis Firm) convene environmental and social justice groups to develop a common policy agenda, leading to the establishment of the Coalition for Environment, Equity, and Resilience (CEER) in 2018.

  • Emergency Response

    Air Alliance Houston and partners file and win two critical lawsuits – one against the EPA for delaying the Chemical Disaster Rule which requires facilities to strengthen their safety protections, and the other against the Chemical Safety Board for not complying with the Clean Air Act requirement to inform the public about the toxic releases from chemical incidents.

  • Bakeyah Congress

    In March 2019, Dr. Bakeyah Nelson testifies before the US Congress regarding stalled Clean Air Act enforcement since the 2016 Presidential Election. 

  • ITC and KMCO fires

    During March and April 2019, Air Alliance Houston staff lead the way in providing information to the public regarding the devastating ITC and KMCO industrial fires. The ITC fire cast thick plumes of toxic smoke over the region for several days, causing shelters-in-place and halting traffic in the Houston Ship Channel. The KMCO explosion kills one plant worker and injures 10 others. AAH, together with partners, express the urgent need to address the deficiencies in emergency preparedness, enforcement, and air monitoring by regulatory agencies.

  • HIA Report

    Air Alliance Houston releases results of a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the Texas Department of Transportation’s North Houston Highway Improvement project (NHHIP), or I-45 expansion. The report informs decision-makers about the project’s potential harmful health effects to communities, specifically those impacting children that go to school nearby the planned expansion, and urges TxDOT to adopt a number of mitigation strategies.

  • I-45 Expansion

    Air Alliance Houston and partners advocate for a delay in the vote to move ahead with TxDOT’s controversial I-45 expansion project. Over 130 Houstonians rally on July 23 to air their concerns to the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Council. Following the community outcry, the Council commits an additional $51.5 million toward community planning and mitigation. 

  • Emergency Response Infrastructure

    Air Alliance Houston and partners successfully advocate for the Harris County Commissioners Court to grow the county’s emergency response infrastructure. September 10, the Court unanimously votes in favor of investing a total of $11.6 million to modernize and better equip the fire marshal’s office, pollution control and public health departments.

  • Kinder Institute Study

    A new study by Air Alliance Houston and the Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research documents the location of hazardous facilities and sites in Houston’s initial five pilot Complete Communities and associated health risks faced by people living near polluting industries.

  • Soto Ready Mix withdraws

    On January 22, in a huge win for healthy neighborhoods everywhere, Soto Ready Mix withdraws its application to build a concrete batch plant in Houston’s Acres Homes neighborhood thanks to the resolute opposition of AAH, community leaders, and Houston’s elected representatives.

  • Nomadic Aggregates withdraws

    In another big win for healthy communities, Nomadic Aggregates, LLC, withdraws its application to construct a concrete batch plant in Aldine during a public meeting on January 30, after being faced with fierce organizing and opposition from residents supported by AAH and elected officials.

  • Houston launches CAP

    Air Alliance Houston plays an important role in the development of Houston’s first-ever Climate Action Plan (CAP), launched April 22nd, by co-leading the Transportation Working Group (WP). AAH continues to direct the Transportation WG and advocate for greater equity as the city moves to the implementation phase.

  • AAH launches community air monitoring program

    Air Alliance Houston kicks off the new year by launching a Community Air Monitoring Program to create a custom air monitoring network for five Houston-area communities: Pasadena, Galena Park/Jacinto City as well as Kashmere Gardens, Near Northside, and Gulfton Complete Communities. The program aims to identify air pollution hotspots, install air monitors, track data, and develop neighborhood action plans to address air quality and work towards environmental justice.

  • FHWA I-45 pause directive

    In response to official complaints filed by advocates drawing attention to the I-45 Expansion’s civil rights and environmental justice issues, on March 8, federal authorities ask the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to pause the project in order to review potential violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Right after, on March 11, Harris County Attorney’s Office sues TxDOT over the project in response to community concerns about displacement and environmental impacts. The federal intervention and local officials’ opposition is a huge win for impacted residents along the I-45 and in setting a precedent for highway fighters across the country.

  • County Climate Action Plan

    Air Alliance Houston and other local environmental groups’ efforts in urging Harris County to create a regional initiative to address climate change pay off on July 20 as the County announces the creation of an Office of Sustainability and the development of a Climate Justice and Action Plan.

  • COVID and Transit in the Houston Region Report

    Air Alliance Houston, in partnership with LINK Houston and the Robert D. Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University, releases a new report, “COVID and Public Transportation in the Houston Region,” that looked at the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Houstonians’ relationship with public transportation. The study shows COVID further highlighted the importance of reliable public transportation and the need for increased support for transit agencies from all levels of government. The findings and recommendations inform the future transportation policy and planning as the Houston region, and the country, creep toward a “new normal.”

Although air quality in our region has improved over the past two decades, we still have a long way to go: Houston was ranked 9th out of 228 metropolitan areas for ozone pollution in the 2019 American Lung Association (ALA) report and the city has never met the federal air quality standards for ground-level ozone. Houston also made the ALA’s top 20 list for most polluted cities in the country for particle pollution.

We remain committed to reducing air pollution levels and working for a better future through research, education and evidence-based advocacy to achieve healthy communities with clean air, every day, for everyone.

GHASP and GHASP/MfCA produced many excellent reports on air quality problems and solutions in Houston.

See Reports