Central Texas Air Quality
2016 Air Quality in Central Texas
Through the end of November, air quality has been "good" in the Austin-Round Rock metro area on 70% of the days, with "moderate" levels of air pollution on about 30% of the days. The figure below shows the number of days each month.
There have been a total of 98 days when air pollution levels were considered "moderate," and 1 day this year in which air pollution reached "unhealthy for sensitive groups".
Central Texas Air Pollution Levels Compared to National Standards
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) that all areas of the country are required to meet. The EPA is required to set these standards at levels that will protect human health and the environment. In most cases, NAAQS are set using multi-year averages, so an area like the Austin-Round Rock metro area can actually experience a few days a year when air pollution levels are considered "unhealthy for sensitive groups" while still being in compliance with the NAAQS. The following figure shows a comparison of air pollution levels in the Austin-Round Rock metro area to each of the NAAQS for the pollutants that are measured locally.
As the figure shows, the Austin-Round Rock metro area's ground-level ozone levels are closes to violating the standard. The region does have a number of days when PM2.5 levels are "moderate," but the "design values" for PM2.5 are significantly further below the PM2.5 NAAQS than the region's ozone levels are compared to the ozone NAAQS. The EPA most recently revised the ozone NAAQS in October 2015 and the PM2.5 NAAQS in December 2012.
As of the end of August 2016, the Austin-Round Rock Metro area's 2014-2016 Ozone "Design Value" is 66 parts per billion (ppb) - 94% of the 2015 Ozone NAAQS of 70 ppb.
Central Texas Air Pollution Levels Compared to Other Parts of the Country
Another way to understand air quality in the region is to compare the Austin-Round Rock metro area's air pollution levels to air pollution levels across the country. The following figure shows the percentile rank of air pollution levels in Central Texas compared to the country, as well as the 2015 air pollution levels compared to the maximum levels measured nationwide.
As the figure above shows, the region's ozone levels in 2015 were higher than 84% of all monitoring stations, but were only 68% of the maximum ozone level recorded in the country.
High Ozone Days by Year
In addition to looking at the region's "design value," it is also to look at the total number of days when air pollution levels are not considered "good." The following figure shows the number of days each year when the highest ozone levels were "moderate" or worse.
Current Ozone and PM2.5 Levels in the Region
To view current ozone and PM2.5 levels being measured in the region, visit TCEQ's website.
TCEQ Toxicological Evaluations of Ambient Monitoring Data in the Region
The TCEQ conducts annual toxicological evaluations of air toxics sampling conducted in the region. To view the latest evaluation, which covers data collected in 2014, follow the link below.
All 24-hour and annual average concentrations of 84 volatile organic compounds from canister samples collected in Region 11 – Austin were below their respective TCEQ Air Monitoring Comparison Values and would not be expected to cause adverse health effects or vegetation effects.