Texas Urges Residents to Limit Car Use 2024

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Texas Asks People to Avoid Using Their Cars

Texas officials are urging residents in certain areas to use alternative transportation methods on Friday due to rising ozone pollution levels.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has declared an Ozone Action Day for the Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Galveston, and Brazoria areas, citing high ozone levels, commonly known as smog. To help reduce pollution, officials recommend minimizing car usage.

“Atmospheric conditions are expected to be favorable for producing high levels of ozone pollution in the Houston, Galveston, and surrounding areas on Friday,” stated an alert from the National Weather Service (NWS). “You can help prevent ozone pollution by carpooling, walking, biking, bringing your lunch to work, avoiding drive-through lanes, conserving energy, and keeping your vehicle properly tuned.” This warning follows a similar alert in California, where high pollution levels prompted officials to advise residents in Imperial County to delay visiting gas stations and using chemicals until conditions improve.

As of Friday morning, affected Texas cities had moderate air quality, with Air Quality Index (AQI) values ranging from 50 to 99. At this level, air quality is “acceptable,” but sensitive individuals may experience effects. According to AirNow, a coalition of U.S. government and tribal agencies monitoring air quality, Friday’s worst air quality was expected in southern California, southern Nevada, eastern Texas, and parts of Mississippi and Tennessee. By 7:30 a.m. Eastern time (ET), the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria area had the sixth highest AQI in the nation at 84, while Hidden Valley, Arizona, topped the list at 113. The NWS noted that air quality varies with time of day and weather, with factors like increased chemical emissions, rapid ozone formation due to heat, low winds, and stagnant weather contributing to high ozone levels.

“Elevated levels of ozone—the predominant summertime pollutant—are likely to result in poor air quality in the afternoon and early-evening hours,” the NWS alert added. “Ozone air pollution can cause respiratory health issues, including difficulty breathing, asthma attacks, and lung damage. Children, older adults, and people with asthma or COPD may be more sensitive to ozone’s health effects.”

Residents can also conserve energy by setting air conditioners to higher temperatures and limiting the use of gasoline-powered equipment, such as lawn mowers.

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