Bexar County officially under ‘moderate’ ozone non-attainment status

The change in air quality status will likely result in a program requiring emissions inspections for vehicles.

SAN ANTONIO — In Bexar County, the air quality is worsening according to EPA standards.

This month—the agency changed Bexar County’s ozone non-attainment level from marginal to moderate. Impending changes that could be made to improve air quality could impact you.

A lot of those changes will require people to reduce emissions from their vehicles and possibly their businesses.

At the UIW Brooks City Base campus is where Metro Health’s Kyle Cunningham does her work..

“With Metro Health as the air quality manager, we maintain monitors around the city,” Cunningham said.

“If there’s an Ozone Action Day we try to get that information out to the public,” According to the last issued report from Metro Health, 19 ozone action days were issued in 2022.

Vehicles could be a driving force to improving air quality.

Due to the change in non-attainment—Bexar County residents will soon have to get an emissions inspection on their vehicles.

“On average, that only costs about $18 to $22, if you pass. If you don’t pass then you will have to make the changes to your vehicle,” Diane Rath is executive director of the Alamo Area Council of Governments.

They work closely with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to create a plan to bring harmful emissions down, which she says could be a challenge.

“It’s very important to understand that locally we only produce 20% of ozone, 80% comes from outside our borders,” Rath says under federal law, the county will be required to reduce its volatile organic compounds by 15%, which she says will be “very difficult.”

“It comes down to the kind of paint we use. If something smells, it probably has VOCs…dry cleaners emit VOCs, so it’s a lot of our everyday activities and that’s different than most communities in the country,” Rath adds.

But Cunningham says minor changes could make a major difference in air quality.

“Fueling the car up in the evenings after 6 [pm]…things like postponing cutting the grass, little things, which are also things that individuals can do, because that’s really going to be the answer in San Antonio,” Cunningham adds.

According to TCEQ, the vehicle emissions plan must be in place in the next four years.

TCEQ says it will come up with the plan to address the federal clean act standards that San Antonio has to meet.

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