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|Grass pollen||Very high|
|1||Three Rivers, California|
|2||La Habra, California|
|3||Coeur d'Alene, Idaho|
|5||Spokane Valley, Washington|
|6||Deer Park, Washington|
|8||Kettle Falls, Washington|
|10||Boyle Heights, California|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 39 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in El Paso is currently 1.9 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
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| Enjoy outdoor activities|
|Friday, Sep 22|
Good 41 AQI US
|Saturday, Sep 23|
Good 24 AQI US
|Sunday, Sep 24|
Good 29 AQI US
Good 39 AQI US
|Tuesday, Sep 26|
Good 23 AQI US
|Wednesday, Sep 27|
Good 19 AQI US
|Thursday, Sep 28|
Good 6 AQI US
|Friday, Sep 29|
Good 6 AQI US
|Saturday, Sep 30|
Good 13 AQI US
|Sunday, Oct 1|
Good 10 AQI US
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El Paso (the pass) is a city and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States. It is located in the far western part of the state. El Paso straddles the Rio Grande River just across from the US - Mexico border.
In early 2021, El Paso was experiencing a period of air quality that is classified as being “Unhealthy for sensitive groups”, with a US AQI reading of 113. This classification is in accordance with suggestions from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The recorded level of the PM2.5 pollutant was 45.9 µg/m³.
With air quality as poor as this, the advice would be to close doors and windows to prevent the ingress of dirty air into the home. Those of a sensitive disposition should avoid venturing outside if it is avoidable. If not, then a good quality mask should be worn at all times. Even healthy people should avoid outdoor exercise until an improvement can be seen. The use of an air purifier would be very beneficial if one is available.
In 2020, the average figure for the year was 9.3 µg/m³ which falls within the WHO target figure of 10 µg/m³ or less. El Paso also achieved the target for 9 months that year, with just 3 months being slightly higher. In September and December, the readings were classified as being “Good” with readings between 10 and 12 µg/m³, and the month of October showed 14.4 µg/m³ which is classed as being “Moderate”. (12.1 and 35.4 µg/m³).
Looking back at figures recorded in 2019 it can be seen that overall, El Paso once again, achieved the target figure set by the World Health Organisation of less than 10 µg/m³. This target figure was achieved for 10 months of the year, the exceptions being in May when the air quality was classed as “Good” with a reading between 10 and 12 µg/m³. The other exception took place in January when the recorded level was between 12.1 and 35.4 µg/m³. This is classed as being “Moderate”.
Looking back historically it can be seen that overall the air quality is slowly improving. The 2017 figure was again under the WHO target figure with a reading of 9.6 µg/m³. A slightly worse figure of 11 µg/m³ was recorded as the average for 2018 whilst 2019 saw El Paso back on track with a mean annual figure of 8.8 µg/m³.
At the end of January 2020, El Paso was ranked as #4 in comparison to other mid-size metros and also classed as being in 19th place out of 300 other US cities with poorer quality air. The rankings are based on the Air Quality Index (AQI) which is a benchmark as used by the Environmental Protection Agency by means of comparing like for like.
Currently, El Paso has an AQI reading of 55. The maximum value is 164. Any figure between 51 and 100 is considered as being “Moderate” whilst readings over 151 are considered to be very “unhealthy”.
One resident was reported as saying that he was not surprised to learn of El Paso’s high ranking. He related a story as to how the smog could be seen as he drove near the school. This was acceptable as it wasn’t really something that people gave much attention to. However, he went on to say that once out of the car, the air could be smelt and almost tasted!
Based on historic emissions records, it is estimated that 71 per cent of nitrogen oxides (NOx) comes from mobile sources and 61 per cent of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) come from area sources. Mobile sources include cars, trucks and trains. In fact, any form of transport with an internal combustion engine. Some area sources can include residential areas, commercial areas and small industrial zones.
A report which was released a couple of years ago stated that El Paso-area industrial facilities released 23,288 pounds of pollution into the air in 2017 without authorisation. The main perpetrators were named as the Western Refining and the Newman Power Station in El Paso County and the Capitan Compressor Station in Culberson.
These violations are illegal and prosecutable by law, but for some reason, no charges were laid against them.
Texas industrial facilities reported releasing more than 63 million pounds of air-polluting chemicals without authorisation in 2017, which equates to a 27 per cent increase over the previous year. The number of enforcements is certainly on the decline with a meagre total of just 3 per cent.
There is concern as to why these culprits are allowed to continue polluting the air, completely unchecked. It is said that they are endangering public health because some of the chemicals are carcinogenic such as benzene.
The most basic solution to air pollution is to completely move away from fossil fuels, replacing them with alternative energies such as solar, wind and geothermal. Producing clean energy is crucial. But equally important is to reduce our consumption of energy by adopting responsible habits and using more efficient devices.
Changing to electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles, and promoting shared mobility (i.e. carpooling, and public transports) could help reduce air pollution.
The oil and gas industry discharges millions of tons of pollutants into the air each year. This mix of pollutants includes methane which is a very potent climate pollutant and enormous amounts of toxic air chemicals and pollutants that cause ozone smog pollution. These poisons, such as benzene, may cause cancer and other diseases, whilst ozone smog can cause a variety of health problems, such as an increase in asthma attacks and worsened bronchitis and emphysema.
It is known that 2.3 million Texans live within half a mile of active oil and gas operations. Toxic air emissions can directly affect the health of individuals living in close proximity to the sources. Children are especially vulnerable to air pollution exposure and there are over 900 schools in Texas that are located within a half-mile of oil and gas operations. It is estimated that children in Texas will suffer from as many as 145,000 asthma attacks unless something is done to curb the contamination.
The bottom line is that air pollution from the oil and gas industry affects young and old and those living near and far from industrial activities. Texans need strong standards to prevent unnecessary harmful pollution from these sites. New standards were a key step to limiting this pollution from new wells and other oil and gas sites, requiring measures such as regularly inspecting oil and gas sites for harmful leaks of methane and other air pollutants.
4 Data sources