El Paso ranks No. 4 in air pollution for mid-sized metros

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The Sun City is one of the top metros in the country with the worst air pollution according to a recent study that has El Paso ranked pretty high among other mid-sized cities.

El Paso is ranked #4 in mid-sized metros, however, we are also ranked 19th out of more than 300 cities in the country with poor quality air.

A recent report from BuyAutoInsurance.com collected 2018 data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The analysis shows El Paso has an overall Air Quality Index (AQI), which is a measure used by EPA that helps define what local air quality means to your health, ranking at 55. The max AQI ranks at 164.

To put that into perspective, an AQI from 51 to 100 is considered moderate. Meanwhile, above 151 is unhealthy for the public.

For Joseph Jordan, it wasn’t much of a surprise while learning El Paso ranks as one of the most polluted cities in the country, “I’ve lived in El Paso pretty much my whole life and you know everything is kind of like a haze. You could pretty much see the smog whenever we’re driving over I-10 near the school, you could see it. You really never think anything of it until you get out of the car and you could actually physically smell it.”

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said typically El Paso sees emissions from mobile sources but also mentions the proximity to other large metro areas must be taken into account.

A spokesperson with TCEQ told KTSM in a statement, “Based on the latest (2017) emissions inventory estimates, 71% of Nitrogen Oxides (NOX) comes from mobile sources and 61% of Volatile Organic Compounds come from area sources.”

Those mobile sources include cars, trucks, and trains. Some area sources include residential, commercial, and small industrial sites.

Others who are relatively new to El Paso said they don’t notice the issue, especially when comparing to other cities.

“I haven’t noticed too much difference. As for me, I don’t really have a problem with it. I guess I’m more accustomed to it because I’ve lived in it for so long,” Austin Kelly, UTEP student shared.
TCEQ officials said El Pasoans can help limit air pollution by carpooling, refueling vehicles in the late afternoon and evening, and to not top off the gas tank.

Meanwhile, Jordan relies on other alternatives, “I think the city is trying to make strides to get better about it. You got the trolleys now, they’ve got the super long sun metro buses so they’re trying to reduce the pollution in the air but there’s definitely more work to be done.”

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