Air Quality is probably the most difficult environmental issue we face today in North Central Texas. The DFW region meets the standard for five of six criteria air pollutants defined by the EPA. The six pollutants are carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxides (a precursor to ozone), ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide (leads to acid rain). Ozone is the only air pollutant for which we do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standard. The City of Dallas, along with many others cities across the United States and around the world, recognize the impact that smog and ozone formation have on our health and economic well-being.
The gas called ozone can be good or bad-depending on where you find it. The good variety occurs naturally at the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere, where it protects us from ultraviolet rays and moderates our climate. The bad ozone accumulates within a few hundred feet of the ground when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants and other sources react chemically in the presence of sunlight. Ozone pollution is most threatening during the summer months, when weather conditions necessary to form ground-level ozone-incessant sun and hot temperatures-normally occur. Unfortunately, with its hot summers and concentrations of traffic and industry, Dallas is an ideal incubator for the creation of ground-level ozone.
Quite naturally, then, the City’s efforts to improve air quality focus on these dangerous low-level accumulations of ozone as well as climate change. The Dallas/Ft. Worth region has experienced a steady decline in ozone levels measured across the area. Emission reductions have been achieved from stationary sources (stack) emissions, cleaner cars and construction equipment, and cleaner fuels. The City has been a leader in emission reductions since the early 1990’s.