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Report Says Houston Still Among Nation’s Most Ozone-Ridden Cities

The report on government data finds pollution increases in recent years, but long-term progress.

Houston continues to be among the nation’s most ozone-ridden cities.

That’s according to the latest annual air quality report from the American Lung Association. The clean air advocacy group puts Houston at 12th on the list of cities most affected by ozone, which the report says can lead to a variety of health problems.

According to the report, local pollution has increased since a 2016 similar check on government data.

Janice Nolen, the association’s Assistant Vice President, says it’s hard to tell what caused the recent spike.

Part of the Houston skyline as seen on a hazy day

“Sometimes the weather patterns can hold those pollutants in, can hold those particles in instead of letting them blow away, can add them to the area,” she says. “Or there may be a local event that contributed to it during this period.”

But, Nolen says, following a national trend, conditions are improving over the long-term, thanks to cleaner power plants and cars.

“Harris County had on average 23.3 days of unhealthy air for ozone [between 2013 and 2015], but in 1997-1999 the weighted average was more than 110 days on average, so it’s a big improvement.”

The report says a changing climate and the kind of weather events that leads to will make it increasingly harder to control air pollution. The group advocates for keeping the Clean Air Act intact, but they’re worried the Trump Administration’s proposed budget cuts for the EPA could lead to less enforcement of the act.

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