Air Alliance warns of high Pollution Levels

Community Meeting hears results of recent monitoring in Jacinto City & Galena Park

By Juan Flores
Air Alliance Houston

GALENA PARK – On February 6, Air Alliance Houston, Environmental Community Advocates of Galena Park, and Environmental Defense Fund held a meeting in Galena Park/Jacinto City to update the community on the data gathered by their air monitoring network and share insights into the extent the pollution is impacting their community.

By the time the meeting started, the room was filled to capacity, predominantly with local residents who were paying close attention to the information presented as it directly impacts them. There were a lot of gasps in the audience when they learned about the high levels of pollution where they live. Concerned residents posed questions about the data and its significance for their health and their community’s health. At the end of the meeting, attendees expressed an interest in getting more involved and acquiring their own air monitors.

DATA: The data presented covered the time period of November 2022 to January 2024.

The monitor in Jacinto City recorded the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), with short-term levels reaching up to 540 ppb over the EPA’s 1-hour standard and long-term levels reaching over 70 ppb over the EPA’s yearly average. Moreover, Galena Park monitors recorded a drop in average levels from 2022 to 2023 while Jacinto City recorded the opposite. Measurements reveal a seasonality to NO2 levels in the area, with summertime recording the highest values – at least since April 2022.

Ozone levels across Galena Park and Jacinto City soared during the summer, with high levels being recorded as early as March and lasting as late into the year as November – even as high as 90 ppb higher than the EPA’s standard. Given that sunlight and heat are one of the precursors for ozone pollution, this is expected, however, 2023 did record a longer ozone pollution period than 2022. This points towards the impact of ever increasing summer temperatures and heat on regional air quality.

Readings from particulate matter monitors were perhaps the worst of all. All 4 air monitors measuring PM2.5 across Galena Park and Jacinto City recorded monthly averages over the EPA’s (previous) standard of 12 micrograms per cubic meter for 13 of the last 16 months. With the new reduction in the standard to 9 micrograms per cubic meter, the monitor’s monthly averages exceeded this level for all 16 out of 16 months. Moreover, average PM2.5 levels seem to have increased in the area from 2022 to 2023, with the area suffering levels 5-10 ug/m3 above the EPA annual standard for most of the year.

Results were also shared from a ‘Sampling the City’ community bike ride held in October 2023 where residents equipped with portable ‘FLOW2’ air monitors rode through Galena Park and Jacinto City to capture levels of air pollution in real-time. The results largely confirmed the previous readings from AAH’s community air monitors:

—High NO2 levels were recorded in Jacinto City

—VOC levels were high throughout the ride, even reaching as high as 295 ppb

—PM2.5 levels were also high throughout the ride with an average of 90.2 ug/m3 and a peak of 214 ug/m3

The presentation of the meeting can be viewed online.

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