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Austin remains within air quality compliance parameters

Friday, October 18, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

After concerns earlier this year that Austin would fall out of compliance with the EPA’s established National Ambient Air Quality Standards, new data presented at the Oct. 16 meeting of the Environmental Commission show that a risk of violation is likely to be avoided for 2019. This year has produced only three days of unhealthy air quality levels for sensitive groups. This is compared to last year, when Austin had 10 days of bad air quality, or 2015’s 12 days of bad air quality. Still, Austin’s ozone levels are toeing the federal limits. In 2017 the city was in the 99th percentile, while in 2018 it landed in the 97th percentile. A full 100 percent means the city has used up its allowance and is in violation of federal ozone safety levels. Though data for this year’s levels have not been collected, there is still a risk of violation. “As of now, I believe we’re still in attainment. But we’re very, very close (to failing),” said Phoebe Romero with the Office of Sustainability. Commissioner Katie Coyne pointed out that even if Austin is not failing now, global warming trends will shortly push the city over the edge of compliance. “If we do nothing related to ozone and it gets hotter, then we’re going to have a problem of non-attainment even if we remain where we are now,” she said.

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