EPA Grant Will Fund Air Pollution Tracking in Houston

The city wants to monitor air quality and measure cancer-causing emissions near two petrochemical plants, one of which announced plans for expansion last year.

1 minute read

July 17, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Black plume of smoke rising from petrochemical plant fire in Houston, Texas

Smoke rises from a fire at a petrochemical plant in Houston, Texas. | Veronika / Adobe Stock

A grant totaling close to half a million dollars from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will help the city of Houston monitor air pollutants including 1,3-butadiene in neighborhoods at high risk for poor air quality.

As Ysabella Kempe explains in Smart Cities Dive, “Exposure to this air pollutant, which smells like gasoline, can cause cancer and trigger short-term health impacts including eye and throat irritation, headaches and nausea.”

According to Loren Hopkins, the Houston Health Department’s chief environmental science officer, “This air monitoring effort was born out of concerns about ‘amazingly high concentrations’ of 1,3-butadiene the city detected near two adjacent chemical plants.” One of the plants, Texas Petrochemical, announced expansion plans in 2022 in spite of community concerns.

“Much of the grant funding will go toward the ‘very expensive’ equipment and sampling needed to monitor air quality, but the city also will use it to pay community partners helping with the project, Hopkins said.” The city also plans to monitor benzene, formaldehyde, and ethylene oxide.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023 in Smart Cities Dive

An aerial view of Milwaukee’s Third Ward.

Plan to Potentially Remove Downtown Milwaukee’s Interstate Faces Public Scrutiny

The public is weighing in on a suite of options for repairing, replacing, or removing Interstate 794 in downtown Milwaukee.

August 27, 2023 - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Portland Bus Lane

‘Forward Together’ Bus System Redesign Rolling Out in Portland

Portland is redesigning its bus system to respond to the changing patterns of the post-pandemic world—with twin goals of increasing ridership and improving equity.

August 30, 2023 - Mass Transit

Conceptual rendering of Rikers Island redevelopment as renewable energy facility

Can New York City Go Green Without Renewable Rikers?

New York City’s bold proposal to close the jail on Rikers Island and replace it with green infrastructure is in jeopardy. Will this compromise the city’s ambitious climate goals?

August 24, 2023 - Mark McNulty

A rendering of the Utah City master planned, mixed-use development.

700-Acre Master-Planned Community Planned in Utah

A massive development plan is taking shape for lakefront property in Vineyard, Utah—on the site of a former U.S. Steel Geneva Works facility.

7 hours ago - Daily Herald

A line of cars wait at the drive-thru window of a starbucks.

More Cities Ponder the End of Drive-Thrus

Drive-thru fast food restaurants might be a staple of American life, but several U.S. cities are actively considering prohibiting the development of new drive-thrus for the benefit of traffic safety, air quality, and congestion.

August 31 - The Denver Post

Air pollution is visible in the air around high-rise buildings in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Air Pollution World’s Worst Public Health Threat, Report Says

Air pollution is more likely to take years life off the lifespan of the average human than any other external factor, according to a recent report out of the University of Chicago.

August 31 - Phys.org