Wednesday, October 24, 2012

We can't change the weather, but....

Since I spoke to the AACOG Air Executive Committee in July, San Antonio has exceeded the Eight Hour Ozone Standard by averaging 80 ppb. at CAMS C58 and 77 ppb. at CAMS C23. Unfortunately, these high ozone events were beyond our control due to the weather. Early season cool fronts switched our winds into the NE, ushering in anthropologic and biogenic pollutants into our area. These pollutants reacted with our high temperatures and sunshine to give us several high ozone events in August and September.

As we all know, we haven't had much luck controlling the weather, but it is possible for all of us to control our leadership in Washington so that there might be a chance that either our current 8 hour ozone standard remains the same or goes back to the 85 ppb. standard prior to 2008.

The Obama administration has made it "not so secret" that they favor a standard that is between 60-65 ppb. Last year they halted the EPA from potentially lowering that standard and asked that the decision be "shelved" until 2013...after the election. Obama Halts Controversial EPA Regulation

If the EPA lowers the standard down to 60-65 ppb., according to an article in US News and World Report, "The proposal could render up to 96 percent of U.S. counties noncompliant, and by some estimates would impose economic damages exceeding $1 trillion."

Even more frustrating is the science, or lack of, behind the move to reduce ozone standards. I have two compelling studies posted on the main page of my website conducted by TCEQ, showing no link between high ozone events and hospitalizations.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Citizens To Be Heard-7-25-12  AACOG Air Tech Meeting

Good morning. My name is Mark Langford and I am the editor of OzoneInformation.Com, a citizen of Bexar County and a lifelong asthmatic.

If I told you that there was a law on the books that could penalize people for having gray hair before the age of 55, you’d think that was completely “ridiculous”. Men and women can’t control the genetics that determines when their hair will turn gray.

But if I told you that the Clean Air Act penalizes areas for having high ozone events when it’s beyond their control, you would not question the EPA or Congress on their science. It’s time to question the science and the Clean Air Act. Depending on this year’s presidential election, the current administration has made it known that they are in favor of lowering the high ozone threshold to even lower parts per billion, sending most of the country into “non-attainment”.

Join me while we look at a Power Point Presentation that illustrates why the current 8hr, three year ozone average is “ridiculous”.

  1. Looking at my second slide, you can see our first high ozone event of 2012 that has put San Antonio very close to being in violation of the Clean Air Act. Notice how the high ozone days are clustered around two days at the end of June and that July there are now high ozone days, despite it being very hot and the same emissions going on as June. Now look at slide 3 and notice that the high ozone event in June also occurred in Austin and Corpus. Houston and Dallas also had high ozone readings during those times.
  2. It’s all about the weather! Winds during those high ozone days were out of the NE-East. As we have seen time and time again, winds from the NE-East usher in pollution (biogenic and anthropogenic sources) into the San Antonio area, spiking our ozone readings to levels that do not occur without outside influences.
  3. As an example, let’s look at slide 5. This graphic shows the ozone that was recorded at Joshua Tree National Park from May 3rd-May 12th of this year. As you can see, their 8hr average exceeded the Clean Air Act on the 10th-12th of May.  Looking at slide 6, you can see that Joshua Tree is located in a very remote location in the desert of southern California. Los Angeles is to the west and San Diego is to the SW. Slide 7 shows an image of what it looks like at the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park.  As you can clearly see, this is a desolate region, devoid of cars, trucks, power plants and manufacturing. But, as you saw in slide 5, they also have high ozone events. Since they obviously are not emitting pollutants of their own, then it must be assumed that their high ozone is the result of transported pollution from Los Angeles and other sources in the region. Same logic can be used for San Antonio. Even though we are a city of over a million people, our pollution is not enough to exceed the EPA 8hr standard without outside factors.
  4. Now let’s look at the next graphic…slide 8. This information is from a report found on the American Lung Association using Asthma Rates from the Centers for Disease Control. States with some of the highest ozone problems have asthma rates below the national average, including Texas. This information has not been hidden, yet it is never mentioned in any EPA reports that discuss a link between asthma and high ozone events. As an asthmatic, I have never had an attack during a high ozone event.
  5. Lastly, let’s look at slides 9 and 10. Part of the problem when we have high ozone events is due to natural causes. Besides the obvious natural cause, the weather, there are other natural causes as well. For ozone to form, it needs several chemical reactions to occur. First, there must be NOx (nitrogen oxides), then it needs sunlight (in abundance in south Texas) and lastly it needs volatile organic compounds. According to the EPA, biogenic (natural) emissions were estimated to contribute 74 percent to VOC emissions from all sources during 2005. One of my theories on why our ozone spikes when winds are out of the NE-East, is that high levels of biogenic VOCs flow into our area from the vast forested regions of the Eastern United States. We still have to have man-made NOx to  start the process, but the normally low levels of ozone that are recorded when the winds are not out of the NE-East are quickly elevated when those winds occur.

Thank you for your time.
Mark Langford

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Response to Express-News Article 8-23-12

To the Express-News

I just read your front page article, "San Antonio appears on EPA's radar" and there are a couple of key points I would like to address:

1. Winds were blowing from the NE and East, due to the passage of an early season cool front. That same front ushered in high levels of smoke from forest fires, sulfates (containing NOx) and volatile organic compounds from biogenic and anthropogenic sources to our north and northeast. You can see this on the NAAPS model from yesterday.

2. Background levels of ozone were so high that even Seguin (74 ppb. on the 20th) and San Marcos (81ppb. on the 20th) had high levels of ozone at their reporting sites. When you factor in the high background levels, San Antonio only added 10-15 ppb. of recorded ozone. Austin avoided the high ozone levels due to a constant cloud deck that only parted yesterday afternoon. When it did, their levels also spiked for a few hours. Here is a link to this data: Daily 8hr Ozone Averages

3. The Eagle Ford Shale drilling area is located to the SE of San Antonio and did not play a role in our high ozone on Monday and Tuesday, nor did smoke from Mexico.  Our winds were consistently from the NE and East on Monday and Tuesday. This was a dirty "Continental Air" event.

4. These events are rare and can be blamed on the weather, not local pollution. San Antonio has some of the lowest emissions in the country for a city our size and never exceeds the EPA standard unless transported pollution invades our region.

Please check out my website for more information on ozone. I have been studying ozone for over 10 years now.


Mark Langford

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

San Antonio Exceeds the EPA's 3 year 8 hour Ozone Average

San Antonio is now out of compliance with the EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standard (three year-8hr ozone average) as of today. An early season cool front is to blame for ushering in transported biogenic and anthropogenic pollutants into our area.

The next step for San Antonio will be "negotiating" with the EPA to try and stay out of "Non-Attainment" status. As usual, high ozone events only occur when winds are of the the NE and East in San Antonio during the summer, late spring and fall. As you can see in the graphic below, the two monitors with the highest ozone readings (CAMS 58 and 505) are located on the north side of San Antonio. With winds blowing from the East and NE, that means that local contribution was minimal. Notice that San Marcos and Seguin also had higher than normal ozone readings. Austin lucked out with cloud cover this afternoon and stayed lower than San Antonio's high ozone day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Latest NonAttainment vs Asthma Rates

2012 Non Attainment Counties

The latest EPA Non Attainment results are in, based on the lowering of the 8 hour ozone average to 75 ppb in 2008.
San Antonio came close to non attainment with a 3 year average of 73 ppb. while the Dallas and Houston areas exceeded 75 ppb. If the 3 year average had dropped to 65 ppb. as proposed by the EPA, almost every city in Texas would be in non attainment. Check it out for yourself.

Over the next few weeks, I will be examining the non attainment regions and comparing their high ozone rates with current prevalence percentage asthma rates. Since high ozone is suppose to trigger and exasperate asthma, then there should be direct correlation between the non attainment regions and asthma rates.

Since I live in Texas, let's start with Region 6 as our first area for examination. Our data will come from the American Lung Association's latest report "Trends in Asthma Morbidity and Mortality" from 2011. This is the same group that has given almost every large city in the country an "F" for air quality in their yearly "State of the Air" report. San Antonio, which is currently in attainment, consistently gets an "F" on our air quality...but that's another story!

According to the American Lung Association, 8.4% of the USA has been told that they have asthma. So, let's use that number as the average for asthma in this country and compare it with cities that are in non attainment, according to the EPA. Below is a list of cities in Region 6 that are in non attainment and their asthma rates.

1. Memphis, TN area:  7.0% Current Asthma Prevalence

2. Baton Rouge, LA:  7.3% Current Asthma Prevalence

3. Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX:  7.2% Current Asthma Prevalence

4. Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, TX:  6.2% Current Asthma Prevalence

So, as you can clearly see, the highest ozone regions in Region 6 have asthma prevalence rates that are below the nation average. The city with the highest asthma prevalence rate in this region is Lubbock, TX, with a 13.1% rate. Lubbock's air is so "ozone free" that the EPA doesn't even bother to monitor it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting some interesting ozone studies and information that have received very little press over the past yeas. These will be added to my website,

I am convinced that natural elements are behind a percentage of air quality issues impacting the globe and that even with the strictest emissions reductions, we may still see areas with high ozone. 

This article is from 2008:

Sea Salt Worsens Coastal Air Pollution

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Asthma Rates by State

Just finished going through this PDF from the Center for Disease Control. As I have written in the past, there is no correlation between asthma and high ozone areas, despite what the EPA and the American Lung Association like to think. Check out this study from 2007:

Adult Self-Reported Lifetime Asthma Prevalence Rate (Percent)
and Prevalence (Number) by Race and State or Territory: BRFSS 2007

Some states like Idaho (13.3%), Rhode Island (14.5%) and New Hampshire (14.9%), which have very low ozone, have above average asthma rates (based on whites, which have highest sampling data). High ozone states like California came in at 12.9%, Texas:13.8%, Ohio:12.7% and PA: 12.1%. USA average is 12.8%.

Even more striking is this report from the American Lung Association from 2009. Go down to the cities section (starting on page 24) and look at some well known high ozone cities like Houston, Los Angeles, etc and compare their asthma rates with smaller cities, never known for high ozone.

President Obama halts EPA Regulation

Obama halts controversial EPA regulation

In a move that could have cost the economy a trillion dollars and elevated the number of "non-attainment" counties from 66 to 628 out 736 counties across the country, President Obama has decided to overrule the EPA and shelve a reduction of the 8 hour ozone average to even lower levels.