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The Houston Ship Channel is densely lined with heavy industry, railways, freeways and other sources of pollution. The convergence of these facilities is a tremendous burden to those who live nearby. I believe that Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency have a responsibility to hear and address the concerns of Houston residents impacted by this hotbed of industrial activity.

Clean Air Ambassador | , Texas

Jacqueline Smith

I live in Houston, the fourth most populous city in the nation which is in Harris County, the third most populous county in the nation. Harris County is home to the Port of Houston, which is ranked number one in the nation in volume of foreign tonnage. The Port is also the second largest petrochemical complex in the world, extending for 25 miles along the Houston Ship Channel.

I recently visited a neighborhood that is in close proximity to the Port. This neighborhood is bordered by two freeways, an industrial-chemical complex, two sets of industrial rail lines and a levee that surrounds dredged material from the Houston Ship Channel. When I listened to the concerns of residents, I heard air quality complaints about dust, flares, odor and traffic. All of these issues are legitimate concerns and should be addressed by regulatory agencies and Congress.

The Environmental Protection Agency developed the Air Quality Index (AQI) as a scale for rating daily air quality measurements and the associated level of health concern. The AQI calculation is based on the highest measurement of the day. In year 2012, the Houston region had a total of 35 days in one of the “unhealthy” categories, including one day in the “very unhealthy” category of the AQI for eight-hour average ozone. Although the number of days in the “unhealthy” categories is down from a 10-year peak of 86 days in 2005, vigilant efforts are still needed so that the Houston region can have an acceptable AQI every day of the year.

When I listened to the concerns of residents, I heard air quality complaints about dust, flares, odor and traffic. All of these issues are legitimate concerns and should be addressed by regulatory agencies and Congress.

50 States United For Healthy Air

Clean air should be a fundamental right. Air pollution causes asthma attacks, lung disease, and even death. But our bodies don't have to be the dumping ground for dirty industries.

The technology to dramatically reduce harmful air pollution is available today, and major polluters should be required to use it.

Clean Air Ambassadors from every state are sending a powerful message: Everyone has a right to breathe clean, healthy air.

It’s time Congress and the EPA used their ears to help our lungs.