San Antonio fails to meet ozone standard; EPA proposes ‘moderate nonattainment’ designation

If finalized, Bexar County will be required to comply with new EPA air quality regulations

File photo (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a plan to move Bexar County from “marginal nonattainment” to “moderate nonattainment” for ozone after the area failed to meet air quality standards.

The new designation would mean the San Antonio area would be required to comply with new EPA air quality regulations of 70 parts per billion by September 24, 2024. It would also give the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) the regulatory role to enforce the EPA’s Clean Air Act regulations.

And it means Bexar County drivers will be required to have their vehicles tested for emissions during annual vehicle inspections.

San Antonio is one of 24 areas across the country that did not meet the fall 2021 deadline for the ozone standard, including the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston-Galveston-Brazoria areas.

The comment period for the EPA’s proposed action closes on June 13, 2022 and a virtual hearing will be held on May 9, 2022.

San Antonio officials said while the city will not have a regulatory role to enforce the TCEQ’s State Implementation Plan, Metro Health will continue to work with area stakeholders to promote ozone reducing activities.

“High levels of ozone can impact respiratory health, especially on hot sunny days when ozone can reach unhealthy levels. Even relatively low levels of ozone can cause adverse health effects. Ozone can cause coughing and sore or scratchy throat, inflame and damage the airways, make the lungs more susceptible to infection, aggravate lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis, and can also increase the frequency of asthma attacks,” a city press release stated.

Metro Health encourages the community to follow the following practices to help prevent ozone formation, especially during Ozone Action Days:

  • Limit driving and idling; instead, carpool, combine errands, use public transportation, bike, or walk.
  • Refuel your vehicle in the late afternoon or evening and don’t top off the tank.
  • Keep your vehicle maintained, including proper tire pressure.
  • Maintain your yard equipment, including changing the oil and replacing air filters regularly. Also consider using tools without gasoline motors. Hand tools such as shears, edgers and push mowers are lightweight, quiet and easy to use, and do not generate emissions.
  • Do not burn yard waste.
  • Use paint and cleaning products with less or zero Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

You can find air quality information for your zip code on the EPA’s website.

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About the Author:

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 20 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.