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Good news: air quality in Galena Park-Houston improves

Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017 - The area is now in compliance for benzene
The area is in compliance for benzene
ContactAndrea Morrow
Phone512-239-5011
After Hrs

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced today that efforts have been successful in reducing benzene emissions in the Galena Park area in Houston. Because of additional monitoring and controls, the Galena Park area that previously had high levels is now below the Air Monitoring Comparison Value for benzene.

Each year the TCEQ collects an extensive amount of ambient air monitoring data and evaluates the potential for adverse health effects. Texas has one of the most extensive networks of ambient Volatile Organic Compound monitors in the country. The TCEQ evaluates VOC data from 15 monitoring sites in Harris County alone. The TCEQ’s Air Pollutant Watch List highlights areas in Texas where monitoring data show persistent, elevated concentrations of air toxics. Following a listing, the TCEQ works with existing industry to reduce levels and with new applicants to limit emissions of the identified pollutant. Once levels are reduced and show consistent compliance, a site can be “de-listed” from the APWL.

The TCEQ has been monitoring for benzene at the Galena Park air monitoring site since Oct. 21, 1997. The TCEQ listed Galena Park on the APWL in 2000 because the annual average benzene concentration was 1.5 ppbv in the years 1998 and 1999. Because the ambient concentrations persistently exceeded the long-term AMCV for benzene, which is 1.4 ppbv, Galena Park was listed. The TCEQ uses the APWL as a means to reduce emissions by focusing its enforcement, permitting, pollution prevention, and monitoring resources and heightening awareness for interested parties in areas of concern. Additional monitors were placed in the Galena Park area in 2008 and 2015, and the TCEQ worked with industries in the area to reduce VOCs, including benzene.

As a result, benzene emissions have been significantly reduced in Galena Park and appear to suggest a downward trend. Since 2010, the annual average benzene concentrations measured in the Galena Park area have all been below the long-term AMCV of 1.4 ppbv. The TCEQ intends to maintain the current level of ambient monitoring in the Galena Park area.  If ambient levels of benzene, or any other contaminant, rise to levels of concern, the agency will begin the process to list the area on the APWL. Read more about the APWL sites and successes.