Air Quality and Transportation

Learn about how transportation effects air quality.

As of 2023, personal vehicles/on-road sources remain the biggest source of ozone-forming emissions in Central Texas. Air Quality Awareness Week is an opportunity to engage with some innovative resources that aim to reduce air pollution from transportation sources and improve overall public health.

With more than 72 million people in the U.S. living within 200 meters of a heavily trafficked road, there is concern about the potential health impacts from air pollutants emitted from cars, trucks and other vehicles. Children, older adults, people with pre-existing cardiopulmonary disease, and people living in low socioeconomic communities are among those at higher risk for health impacts associated with living near busy highways, rail yards, marine ports, and industries where pollutants are emitted from multiple sources.

The Table below show different sources and their levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, the largest contributor to ground-level ozone in the region by the Ton.

Emission Sources

Five Ways to Help

When we get right down to it, health is our most treasured asset. The well-being of our loved ones, priceless. Air pollution especially threatens children and the elderly, two populations we strive hardest to protect. But there is brighter news. Five simple steps can help solve the problem.

  1. Maintain your vehicle- cars and trucks in top running order pollute less
  2. Drive less - walk, bike, take public transit, carpool, and combine errands
  3. Drive Clean - Buy a “cleaner” vehicle lower emitting vehicles such as hybrids are a cleaner option. You can also find information on other vehicles with lower emissions at
  4. Drive the speed limit - not always popular, but always air-friendly; driving fast increases emissions
  5. Reduce idling - limit the time you sit in drive-thrus, or better yet take the sometimes quicker and always healthier option, and walk inside

Vehicle Idling - Four tall tales about idling:

A virtually silent thief of gasoline, money, and the quality of our air. Idling for even a minute uses more fuel and creates more pollution than turning off the engine and restarting it. Many myths abound about idling, such as:

  • Idling is good for your car...NOT TRUE, and it even leads to an incomplete burn of fuel, leaving nasty deposits in your engine.
  • Idling is essential on cold-weather days...FALSE. Modern engines don’t need to idle. Oil begins circulating in seconds and it’s better to drive off and save your time and money (avoid burning fuel while going nowhere).
  • Idling for 15 minutes is the best way to warm up a vehicle...WRONG. Driving is the best way to warm up a vehicle.
  • Restarting a car is hard on equipment...NOT SO. Modern engineering studies show that restarting has little impact on batteries and starters.