Houston to face EPA crackdown on fine particle pollution
The Environmental Protection Agency just tightened standards for tiny, pervasive soot particles from construction sites, smokestacks, tailpipes, wildfires and other sources.
Why it matters: Air quality in Harris County, with its factories and petrochemical plants, does not meet the revised standard, per the EPA.
The big picture: The Houston area is a hot spot for fine particle air pollution, and the new rules could impact new and existing development.
Driving the news: The agency is imposing a new annualized exposure mandate for fine particulates of 9 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), down from the current 12 µg/m3 requirement, Axios' Ben Geman reports.
Threat level: Soot particle air pollution is dangerous and linked to asthma, irregular heartbeats, bronchitis, and even premature death in people with heart or lung disease, per the EPA.
- Multiple studies show people of color face higher exposure to fine particulates.
Zoom in: The Houston area ranked sixth worst in the nation for air pollution of fine particles known as PM2.5, according to a Guardian analysis from last year.
Between the lines: Environmental groups called it an important public health move, while business groups, citing steady improvements in air quality, said more requirements again would throttle development and jobs.
What they're saying: "Houstonians have been forced to breathe harmful soot pollution for too long from too many sources," Jennifer Hadayia, executive director of Air Alliance Houston, said in a statement.
- "This new standard will finally force a hard look at local measures to protect our health."
More Houston stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Houston.