San Antonio given another year to get air pollution under threshold set by EPA

City has to get levels under 70 parts per billion

By Justin Horne - Weather Authority Meteorologist/Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The Environmental Protection Agency has extended its deadline in order for San Antonio to improve its air quality. In 2018, San Antonio could potentially receive non-attainment status from the government, should ozone levels not drop.

For that reason, a campaign is underway by the Alamo Area Council of Governments to improve air quality. Also standing with AACOG is Krystal Henagan, who heads up the Texas chapter of the Moms Clean Air Force in Texas. According to Henagan, her asthmatic son suffers on days when pollution is high. 

"He's very sensitive to air pollution and he's missed school because of it,” Henagan said.

"I have to take my medicine a lot, and I have to stay inside,” Tanner Henagan, 8, said. "Whenever you stay inside, it's not that fun."

Tanner Henagan is not alone, with asthma cases in significant numbers across the San Antonio area. 

 "We know that ozone makes asthma worse,” Krystal Henagan said.

While the Alamo City currently ranks better than other large cities in Texas, area ozone levels, averaged over a three-year period, are just above the cutoff of 70 parts per billion as set by the EPA. Those levels are measured by sensors around the city.  Should the average not drop below that mark in 2018, non-attainment status could come at a price. 

RELATED: City ozone levels violating federal air standards

"AACOG recently did a study and found that it will cost over $1 billion every year due to project delays, road construction costs and lost business,” said Lily Lowder, with AACOG.  

Lowder said people might not notice the costs at first, but they would get passed down eventually.  As a result, AACOG is asking residents to think about air pollution by making a few changes.

"Driving less. Conserving their fuel. Keeping their vehicle properly maintained, and also reducing and avoiding traffic delays,” Lowder said.

According to statistics, ozone levels peak in the spring and fall, especially following weak frontal boundary passages. The largest contributor of ozone in the San Antonio area is point sources, such as coal plants, which account for 39 percent of the pollution. Meanwhile, traffic reportedly accounts for 30 percent of the ozone concentrations in the Alamo City.

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