Clean air is key to ensure quality of life for all residents of Central Texas. While air quality in Central Texas has shown improvement in the past, over the past 2 years, air quality in Travis County has declined to 246 days with good air quality in 2022, compared to 260 in 2020. In 2022 there were 7 days where the air was unhealthy for sensitive groups (the highest it’s been since 2018). In addition, there were 112 days when air pollution levels in the region were considered “moderate” or worse.
The EPA calculates the Air Quality Index by measuring ground level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide.
Travis County had 7 days when air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups in 2022. Sensitive groups include people with lung diseases, children, older adults, and people who exercise or work outdoors. The EPA’s AirNow website shares local, real-time air quality data to help people protect their health.
The Austin MSA has good air quality, when compared to these select US cities. Only Portland, OR had more days with good air quality in 2022. Denver and Houston had the fewest number of good air quality days among these cities in 2021.
One way the EPA measures the air quality status of a given location relative to the NAAQS is using a statistic called the “design value”. Design values are commonly used to designate and classify non-attainment areas and as tools to measure progress towards meeting the NAAQS. All areas of the country are required to meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA).
Our region remains near the current ozone standard. As of 2022, our design value for ozone is 64 parts per billion (ppb). The standard is 70 ppb. In 2021, there were 116 days when air pollution levels in the region were considered “moderate” or worse.
Air Central Texas is a regional clean air campaign that serves the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area consisting of Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson County. It is coordinated by the Capital Area Council of Governments with support form the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition.