HOUSTON -

The smokey haze we endured last week reminded me of the old days when Houston's air was not much better during many of our summer days. Then, instead of controlled burns in Mexico, it was our very own local industry responsible for many of the pollutants that put us in the same sentence as Los Angeles when talking about smog.

SW Freeway Cam Haze
The good news is that Houston's air has improved but not enough to get us off at least a couple of dubious lists.  Forbes Magazine recently published its annual list of “America's 20 Dirtiest Cities.” Houston was 13th on that list, in large part because of high levels of ozone.

The American Lung Association ranks Houston as the 7th worst city for ozone pollution. 
http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/msas/houston-baytown-huntsville-tx.html#ozone

So where's the good news?

Houston Blue Sky

We've gotten better.  Above is a picture of a recent clear sky in Houston. Even as our petrochemical refineries crank away producing product that keeps Houston as the Energy Capitol of the World, they are doing it more efficiently so that now our year round pollution levels have dropped us off many of the lists where Los Angeles continues to stay in the top five.

We still have a long way to go but there seems to be clearer air right around the corner. And there are may resources for us to keep track of our community's air.

http://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_city&cityid=236

The above link to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is excellent in providing information about what kind of pollution may be in your air on any given day, and provides the parameters about when your approaches unhealthy levels.

It's a good place to start to get a better understanding of what's in your air and what you can do to make sure it stays as healthy as possible.

Now go out and take a deep breath!