Clean air is key to ensure quality of life for all residents of Central Texas. While air quality has improved in Central Texas, our region is still on the cusp of exceeding the current ozone standard. As of 2020, our design value for ozone is 65 parts per billion (ppb). The standard is 70 ppb. In 2020, there were 106 days when air pollution levels in the region were considered “moderate” or worse.
The EPA calculates the Air Quality Index by measuring ground level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide.
Travis County had 2 days when air quality was unhealthy or unhealthy for sensitive groups in 2020. Sensitive groups include people with lung diseases, children, older adults, and people who exercise or work outdoors. The EPA’s AirNow website shares local, real-time air quality data to help people protect their health.
The Austin MSA has good air quality, when compared to these select US cities. Only Portland Charlotte and Portland have more days with good air quality. Denver and Houston have the fewest number of good air quality days among these cities.
One way the EPA measures the air quality status of a given location relative to the NAAQS is using a statistic called the “design value”. Design values are commonly used to designate and classify non-attainment areas and as tools to measure progress towards meeting the NAAQS. All areas of the country are required to meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA).
Air Central Texas is a regional clean air campaign that serves the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area consisting of Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson County. It is coordinated by the Capital Area Council of Governments with support form the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition.