San Antonio fails clean air test

American Lung Association: Ozone levels exceeded acceptable levels 17 times in 2012


The American Lung Association released their annual air quality grades for dozens of counties the United States this week.

They gave Bexar County an F for ozone levels. Ozone levels exceeded acceptable levels 17 times in 2012.

"Last summer, for the first time in years, we recorded a violation of federal clean air health standards," said Peter Bella, director of natural resourses/air quality for the Alamo Area Council of Governments.

There has been some speculation that the activity associated with drilling in the Eagle Ford Shale could be responsible for the increased ozone levels, but Bella says there just isn't any evidence yet to come to that conclusion.

"But it is true that we have to look at all of the growth factors," Bella said. "We have to look at all of the changes. Take them all in to consideration and make as assessment based on a technical analysis, not guesswork."

Bella said an impact study for the Eagle Ford Shale is in the works.

As for that grade of F San Antonio received for our air quality, Bella was diplomatically skeptical.

"Given that there are a lot of cities around the country that have a lot worse air quality than we do, it sort of feels a little unfair," Bella said.

For example, Brewster County, an extremely rural county that is home to Big Bend National Park, and virtually no industry to speak of, received a grade of D.

It is believed that most of the air pollution there drifts in from Mexico.

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