Metro San Antonio gets mixed reviews in our latest air quality report card, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The American Lung Association says San Antonio gets a grade of 'A; for our efforts to remove 'short term particle pollution.' Also known as 'soot,' this type of pollution generally comes from refineries, coal burning power plants, and manufacturing facilities.
The American Lung Association says the region has done a good job reducing its year-round particle pollution, but warn that the region still has 'dangerous' spikes, which can last for hours to weeks on end.
Some of that pollution is related to the annual burning of crops in southern Mexico and Central America, which often sends smoke as far as south Texas.
But the report gives the region a flunking grade when it comes to ozone pollution. That is pollution which is mainly emitted from vehicle exhaust systems.
"State of the Air 2013 finds that ozone levels in Bexar County stayed about the same, resulting in an F grade," the report said. "Ozone, also known as 'smog,' is the most widespread air pollutant, created by the reaction of sunlight on emissions from vehicles. When ozone is inhaled, it irritates the lungs, like a bad sunburn. It can cause immediate health problems that continue days later. Ozone can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks, and premature death."
The ALA says while the region has improved its ozone pollution over the 14 years the survey has been conducted, it remains at unhealthy levels.
Ozone pollution is the reason for those 'Air Quality Health Alert Days,' in which you are urged to carpool, avoid the drive through lane, and not gas up until after 6 PM.
The problem with ozone pollution is, as long as the levels remain high, we risk serious retaliation by the feds. The U.S. EPA could order the region to undergo expensive tailpipe emissions checks as part of our annual vehicle inspection, could restrict new industries from setting up shop in the area, and could even order all area speed limits lowered to 55.