Greater Houston is home to over 500 facilities listed in the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). In 2017, more toxic pollution was released in the Houston Metropolitan area than by the top five U.S. Metropolitan economies combined. Lax land-use policies and sprawling residential development have resulted in industrial and transportation-related air pollution sources being located near many Houston communities. At the same time, the current monitoring network has been designed to determine compliance with federal air quality standards and is often inadequate for identifying localized sources of air pollution which could put public health at risk. Significant gaps in the public air monitoring network mean many Houstonians don’t know what’s in the air they are breathing.
The below map shows the locations of TRI facilities in Harris County and existing air monitors, illustrating the lack of monitoring coverage in many high-risk areas.
Harris County VOC monitoring locations (purple crosses) and PM 2.5 (red crosses) with TRI facility locations (dots). The polygons encapsulate the nearest monitor for the area within.
What we’re doing
A community-based air monitoring network
We are collaborating with Harris County, partners, and community groups to help inform the expansion of the county’s air monitoring network. Additionally, we are building our own community-based air monitoring network to supplement regional efforts. We currently have air quality monitors in Pasadena and Galena Park/Jacinto City and three of Houston’s ‘Complete Communities’: Kashmere Garden, Gulfton, and Near Northside, with plans for more. This low-cost network is being designed to address neighborhood-level air quality concerns in communities with the greatest risks. It will comprise a mix of air monitors, including the already installed Purple Air particulate matter monitors and APIS air monitorsthat will detect common pollutants. This additional air monitoring capacity will help identify and raise awareness about air pollution sources in neighborhoods most impacted by poor air quality. Equally importantly, it will guide mitigative strategies and public policy to protect health.
Want to host an air monitor or have questions?
We are working in many communities, including Pasadena, Galena Park, Kashmere Gardens, Near Northside, and Gulfton.
Please contact Juan Flores at [email protected] | 713.553.6351