Denton County air at quality threshold

Engineering Professor Al Armendariz, an expert on air quality, talks about the state of air quality in Denton County.

By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe and Lowell Brown
Staff Writers

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a three-part series on problems with local air quality.

After Beth Lutz returned to Denton from a California vacation, her eyes began itching and burning again. The constant irritation in her throat returned, too.

“I don’t know what’s in the air here,” Lutz said.  

According to state and federal data, it’s ground-level ozone. And greenhouse gases. And other noxious elements.

The American Lung Association grades Denton County air quality an “F,” identifying about 37.6 percent of the population — more than 230,000 people — as being most at risk on days with heavy smog. . .

The Denton Airport’s monitoring station has logged 84 bad-air days in 2009. Preliminary data from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality shows July 2 was the worst day so far, with 91 parts per billion of ozone in the air for eight hours. The standard is 75 parts per billion.

In 2007, TCEQ adopted an improvement plan that was supposed to clean the air and meet a federal deadline of summer 2009 to bring the Dallas-Fort Worth region into compliance. . .

The 2007 plan did not include several key recommendations that could have made a difference, according to Southern Methodist University engineering professor Al Armendariz. He serves on the advisory board for the National Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit group dedicated to environmental issues.

Read the full story.

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