San Antonio's ozone pollution levels read above federal ozone standards for air quality Tuesday.
"The ozone levels recorded at some of the local regulatory monitors have exceeded the standards set by the federal government for ozone under The clean Air Act," said Peter Bella, natural resources director at the Alamo Area Council of Governments.
However, as of now San Antonio will not receive a non-attainment designation as The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality still has to officially verify the accuracy and the quality of the data, which Bella said probably won't happen until the end of this year.
"When that data is quality assured and quality checked and the Environmental Protection Agency begins the designation process, they take a look at that data. What we're anticipating is that because the ozone standard will be undergoing a review, if there is a revision to the standard that would start the clock ticking, then we would be looking at a potential non-attainment designation," said Bella.
However, Bella said that San Antonio will have to keep a close eye on rising pollution rates, especially over the next three years, as another level reading that breaks the standard in that time period would subject us to a non-attainment designation, which would begin a series of federal programs and planning requirements in the area to make sure that the city meets EPA standards.
"Areas that go into non-attainment will likely have to have greater reductions on their business and industry. In other words, local industry will have to make sure that they're not polluting above a certain level. And they might be required to make offsets in the region, in other words they might be required to help reduce ozone pollutants down below a certain level," said Bella.
A non-attainment designation could also affect the transportation industry, who would also have to adjust their practices to meet EPA standards.
"There could be requirements for local transportation planners to make sure that if they talk about building a new roadway, that adding the trucks and cars on that new roadway will not be seen as increasing pollution levels. They will have to make sure that new roadways will actually decrease pollution levels," said Bella.
San Antonio's quick and high level population growth has been a large contributing factor to our city's rise in ozone pollution.
"As we have been successful in keeping a good economic base even during the national economic development down turn, that also means that more business, more industry, more growth in the industrial and business sector are all ways that require more energy and have a potential to create more pollution all by themselves," said Bella.
High ozone levels particularly present a problem for people with pulmonary diseases or problems, and can particularly develop them in small children. They also tend to slow the photosynthesis of area trees and plants during growing season.