African Dust, Mexican Fires Add To Houston Pollution

HOUSTON (September 22, 2013)--State environmental regulators blame the excessive soot in the air in the Houston area on dust blown in from the Sahara desert and smoke from crop-clearing burns in Mexico.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has shared its findings with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and if the EPA accepts them, Harris County would avoid stringent pollution controls and sanctions on airborne soot.

The state submission came after Harris County failed to meet federal limits on soot in December, which were tightened after a federal judge ruled that previous standards were inadequate to protect public health.

The state commission has recorded seven days from 2010 to 2012 when soot levels were not preventable because of particles blown into the area from abroad.

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