Air pollution occurs when chemical, physical or biological pollutants are released into the air which causes negative effects to the environment and human health. The EPA identifies six common air pollutants: particulate matter, ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and lead. Particulate matter and ground-level ozone are the two most prevalent types of pollutants and cause the most widespread health effects. Sources for air pollution include cars, trucks, power plants, factories, agricultural areas, fires, etc.
According to the EPA, nine counties in North Texas exceed the 2015 8-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standards for the pollutant ozone. Ground-level ozone pollution has harmful effects on humans, animals, and plants. It forms just above the earth’s surface through a chemical reaction between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds in sunlight and hot temperatures. Pollutants emitted from vehicles, industries, power plants, etc. are primary sources for ground-level ozone. Ozone season in North Texas begins in March and lasts through October, when the warmer temperatures create the necessary conditions for ground-level ozone to form.
For more information on ozone pollution, visit the Environmental Protection Agency.
Health Effects of Ozone Pollution
Children, older adults, those who suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases, and people who are active outdoors are at a greater risk of experiencing health problems from ozone pollution. Exposure to ozone pollution can cause the following health problems in both the higher risk population and healthy people:
- Inflammation of the airways
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Asthma attacks
For more information, visit the American Lung Association or the Environmental Protection Agency.
Air Quality Solutions
The earth’s atmosphere is a complex, dynamic natural gaseous system that is essential to support life. Air pollution is the human introduction into the atmosphere of chemicals, particulates, or biological materials that can cause harm to humans, other living organisms or the environment. Contrary to common perception of associating air pollution mainly with major stationary sources or smokestack industries, mobile sources such as automobiles are gaining increasing importance.
The following sections provide some resources and simple steps for Grand Prairie residents to improve air quality.
Eco Friendly Driving
- Combine errands into one trip. When you start a car after it was parked more than an hour, it pollutes up to five times more than when the engine is warm.
- Share a ride or car pool.
- Care for your car. Regular maintenance and tune ups and checking tire inflation can improve gas mileage and extend your car’s life.
- Report smoking vehicles. If you see a vehicle on the road with visible air pollution, make a note of the license number and report it to the state as a public service following instructions from the NCTCOG's Regional Smoking Vehicle Program web page. The vehicle owner will receive information from the state on the vehicle emissions program and the repair replacement program.
Energy Efficient Homes
Your home uses energy everyday, all day long. It uses energy to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, cook your food, wash and dry your clothes, provide you with light when you need it, entertain you, and for a host of other activities. Natural gas and electricity are the two main sources of energy in Grand Prairie. While limiting the use of natural gas can reduce pollution in our immediate vicinity, limiting the use of electricity will reduce pollution around the generating stations in remote locations, which is beneficial for the region as a whole. Remember, air pollution is a regional issue as it can disperse over long distances.
Here are 10 simple ways to cut home energy costs as recommended by the Consumer Federation of America:
- Check furnace or heat pump filters once a month and replace them regularly. A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and lead to early equipment failure.
- Get your heating and cooling systems checked once a year. A licensed professional will make sure that each is operating efficiently and safely. Check-ups can identify problems early.
Sealing Air leaks
- Install your storm windows in the winter, if you have them. Add them if you don’t have insulated windows. Choose the ones that have earned the ENERGY STAR, the government’s symbol of energy efficiency.
- Caulk and weather strip all leaky windows, baseboards, and doors.
- Caulk and weather proof all exterior openings for plumbing and electrical service.
- Make sure all attic vents and ducts are properly sealed. Sealing your ducts can save an average of $140 annually on energy bills and consistently heat or cool every room.
- Check your attic and all exterior walls or unfinished rooms to make sure they are well insulated.
- Install a programmable thermostat – a system that automatically adjusts to different temperatures to meet your comfort needs. A programmable thermostat can save you an average of $100 a year when programmed and used properly.
- Replace traditional light bulbs and fixtures with compact fluorescents.
- Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products.