|2||Charles Town, West Virginia|
|7||Warner Robins, Georgia|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 23 US AQI||PM2.5|
|PM2.5|| 5.5 µg/m³|
|Open your windows to bring clean, fresh air indoors|
|Enjoy outdoor activities|
|Thursday, Mar 4|
Good 29 US AQI
|Friday, Mar 5|
Good 47 US AQI
|Saturday, Mar 6|
Good 41 US AQI
Good 23 US AQI
|Monday, Mar 8|
Good 44 US AQI
|Tuesday, Mar 9|
Good 33 US AQI
|Wednesday, Mar 10|
Good 24 US AQI
|Thursday, Mar 11|
Good 23 US AQI
|Friday, Mar 12|
Good 22 US AQI
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Fort Worth’s air quality is primarily challenged by ozone pollution. Tarrant County, of which Fort Worth is the county seat, has not met US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “attainment” levels for ozone since at least 1996.
Ozone is gas formed in the atmosphere when sunlight causes precursor pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and reactive organic substances, to react. In Fort Worth, the chemicals necessary to form ozone most commonly originate from motor vehicle exhaust and oil refining. Since abundant sunshine and heat are required to initiate the chemical reaction, and increased heat produces more ozone pollution, warm urban climates more commonly experience unhealthy ozone levels. Texas cities such as Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio all exceeded ozone standards set by the EPA in 2019. Most, like Fort Worth, have never met attainment levels.
From 2016-2018, Tarrant county had a weighted average of 13.3 unhealthy ozone days, far exceeding the 3.2-day EPA standard.1 The American Lung Association rated the region's ozone status an “F” in the 2019 State of the Air report. Out of the 229 cities included in this report, the Dallas-Fort worth area ranked 21st for worst ozone levels.
Fort Worth’s air quality fares better, on the other hand, for fine particle pollution (PM2.5). According to the 2019 State of the Air report, the city has met daily and annual PM2.5 targets since 2004.
Fort Worth’s annual air quality index (AQI) for the last three years (2017, 2018, and 2019) has been (AQI) 34, 42, and 35, respectively. Air pollution in Fort Worth tends to be more severe in the summer, with June and July traditionally the most polluted months.
Since 2004 Fort Worth has seen a steep drop in PM2.5 and ozone pollution levels, with unhealthy ozone days dropping by 79.6% and annual average PM2.5 levels dropping by 32.8%. 2018 and 2019, however, experienced increases in air pollution, with similar trends noted in other Texas cities.
Recent pollution level gains are likely attributable to the city’s growing population and traffic congestion as well as to increased emissions from nearby industry, particularly from petroleum-related extraction and refining.
Fort Worth, now the fifth-largest city in the state of Texas and the 13th-largest city in the United States, has seen tremendous growth in the last twenty years.2 Since 1997, transportation emissions have risen 27%.3 To combat the effects of this growing population on city-wide air quality, a move towards electric or hybrid vehicles and increased public transportation is important.
Fort Worth has a large oil and gas industry, primarily revolving around the Barnett Shale. While the industry has been stable in recent years, there has been an uptick in illegal emissions from petroleum companies across Texas. Facilities in the North Texas area were responsible for releasing nearly 80,000 pounds of non-authorized air pollution in 2017, up 27 percent from 2016.4
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 resulted in city-wide lockdown measures in order to reduce the spread of the virus. These measures led to reduced traffic and industry and are expected to have contributed to a drop in Fort Worth’s AQI. It is yet to be seen how this will affect annual averages for 2020. Experts warn that any improvements linked to COVID-19 lockdowns are only short-term, and sustainable solutions are needed to combat worsening Fort Worth air pollution levels in the long term.
Fort Worth, which is located only 30 miles from Dallas, is similarly challenged by transport and industrial emissions, primarily from petroleum activity. According to a report from Frontier Group and the Environment America Research and Policy Center, 52% of all PM2.5 and ozone pollution in Texas is estimated to come from vehicle exhaust, while petroleum-related industry accounts for roughly 21 percent.5
Fort Worth has experienced tremendous growth in the last twenty years. From 2000 to 2010, it was the fastest growing city of more than 500,000 residents.6 Likewise, transportation emissions have been on the rise. Per capita transport emissions in the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) area have increased by 27% since 1997. This is likely owed to more traffic and longer commutes resulting from the region's growing population. 76% of cars on the road on any given day are estimated to contain just one person.
Currently, Fort Worth has fewer electric vehicles than nearby Plano, Texas, a city with less than a third of the population of Fort Worth.7 Incentivizing residents to transition to greener transport has the potential to significantly improve Fort Worth’s air quality levels.
Fort Worth has over 1,000 natural gas wells that tap into the Barnett Shale.8 This petroleum extracting and refining activity, in addition to other state-wide facilities, is another significant contributor to Fort Worth’s air pollution problem. The Bridgeport Gas plant in Wise is among the top 10 polluters in North Texas, in close proximity to Fort Worth, along with the more distant Owens Corning Insulating Systems plant in Waxahachie, Tamko Building Product facility in Dallas, and Conecsus facility in Kaufman County.9
The Environment Texas Research and Policy Center found that facilities in North Texas were responsible for emitting 78,737 pounds of illegal air pollution in 2017, a 27% jump from the year before. The rise in illegal emissions likely owes to the feeble enforcement of fines, making it more profitable to break the law than to abide by it. In 2018, Texas facilities only paid $2 million in penalties for illegal emissions — a small fraction of the $297 million that could have been levied. Closing legislative loopholes and enforcing penalties to their highest degree presents an opportunity to greatly reduce illegal emissions and thereby significantly improve Fort Worth’s air quality.
Much of Texas experienced an isolated pollution event in June of 2020 in which trade winds carried a sand cloud over 2 miles wide across the Atlantic Ocean for over 5,000 miles to North Texas. The sandstorm resulted in the North Texas region’s thickest dust in roughly 20 years, sending Fort Worth’s air quality levels to “unhealthy” levels.10 While unique in its severity, these kinds of sandstorms do occasionally occur in the area. As deforestation becomes a growing problem as a result of the warming global climate, such international air quality events could become more prominent.
Discover the influences may be affecting Fort Worth’s AQI in real-time by using Fort Worth’s air pollution map to observe the impact of wind on ambient PM2.5.
+ Article Resources
 American Lung Association. (2019). State of the air – 2019.
 Fort Worth Business Press. (2019, May 23). Fort Worth grows again, now the 13th largest city in U.S.
 Green Dallas. (2020). What is the city doing?
 Pabst E. (2020). Illegal air pollution in Texas: Air pollution from startups, shutdowns, malfunctions and maintenance at industrial facilities in Texas in 2018.
 Ridlington E. (2020). Trouble in the air: millions of Americans breathed polluted air in 2018.
 Fort Worth Census. (2020). Population.
 Dallas Fort Worth Clean Cities. (2020). Electric vehicles North Texas.
 Fort Worth. (2020). Gas well drilling.
 Jimenez J. (2019, December 18). Report lists top 10 polluters in North Texas.
 Ray J. (2020, June 27). Saharan dust cloud causes North Texas air to be deemed ‘unhealthy’.