Air Pollution Service Response

Environmental Health Division
Pollution Control and Prevention
Arturo Blanco, Bureau Chief
Presentation to Regional Air Quality Planning Advisory Committee
October 30, 2014
Air Complaints
One Pagers
Community feedback
Area Surveillances
Monitoring air pollution trends
Metal Recyclers
Outreach at schools
EPA Village Green Project
Air Complaints
Air Complaints
Type, Effects, and Monthly Distribution
One Pagers
Synopsis of environmental data collected and complaints serviced in neighborhoods that have
reached out to BPCP for support, information or help to address environmental concerns
affecting their communities.
Through Houston Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) partnership with Air Alliance
Houston, we work to promote environmental health resources, respond quicker to pollution
concerns of highest importance to our neighborhoods, and expand community level of
knowledge about air quality, its threats to public health and minimize exposure.
One Pagers
Mobile Ambient Air Monitoring Laboratory (MAAML)
Community Feedback
Within the past two years, community leaders in these Super Neighborhoods have expressed
environmental concerns and requested fixed air monitors to monitor ambient air.
• Surrounded by industrial warehouse
district and industrial rail lines on
Pleasantville’s north and south
pollution from
Ship Channel
industry looming
over their
homes, ranging
petrochemical to
metal recycling
People observed
catching and
reportedly eating
fish from nearby
waterways not
suitable for
• Nearby industry and commercial
activities generated from Houston
Ship Channel are of high concern.
• Reported pollution from traffic and
trucks along roads and freeways with
numerous surrounding small
• Environmental complaints include
diesel fumes from trains and trucks
and chemical packaging transfers.
• 1995 seven-alarm warehouse fire
smoked for weeks with lasting
environmental uncertainties and fresh
in their memories:
• 45 warehouses sit within 1,000
feet of residences
• 516 locations with hazardous
chemical storage and handling
• Formerly the site of Holmes Road landfill
and a waste incinerator on Bellfort St.
near HWY 288.
• Reported pollution from multiple
sources and blight including metal and
concrete crushing sites, surface coaters,
and “abandoned” businesses.
Area Surveillances
• Maintaining vigilance in areas of Houston where
residents live, frequently expressing poor air quality
concerns due to nearby industry.
• Randomly doing surveillance of prioritized areas with
frequent complaints and unresolved sources of
nuisance odors with ongoing intermittent problems.
• Areas of interest are integrated into the
investigator’s workload of field activities;
investigators use wide array of air monitoring tools.
• Attention and resources are focused on specific
symptoms such as variable odors periodically
detected in the East End or 610 south central.
• While less frequent, surveillance sometimes result in
observations of trailing smoke from a flare and
invisible emissions seen with the help of IR camera.
Area Surveillances
Tank emissions
surveillance on
October 2013.
• Investigators map a plan of action insuring that upwind
and downwind monitoring is conducted and results
discussed to formulate next steps.
• Surveillance initiatives are usually in industrial areas.
• In recent years we have turned attention to gasoline
dispensing facilities and auto dealers, focusing on air
pollution, as well as runoff fluids with potential impact to
storm drains.
• Most surveillance resources have been focused during
the day; sometimes at night. We have worked with
concerning sources with and without formal
enforcement depending on each situation.
Tank was placed
out of service on
October 2013,
and remains out
of service as of
October 2014.
• As resources allow, our surveillance program varies
based on overall routine demands including emerging
requests for public pollution assistance, varying density
of complaints, and other prioritized work during and
after normal work hours.
Ambient air monitoring trends of air pollutants
PM2.5, PM10, Benzene, Styrene, 1,3-Butadiene, Toluene, Propylene, etc.
• BPCP meets periodically with the management team of chemicals companies, refineries and
other types of regulated entities in an informal and cooperative spirit with goal to improve air
• BPCP shares charts of ambient air monitoring that may show trend of increasing or decreasing
concentrations of air pollutants, relevant air complaints received, emission events, and possible
or actual enforcement issues.
• The companies introduce any changes in their teams, update on status of improvements and
share environmental projects of germane interest.
Ambient air monitoring trends of air pollutants
PM2.5, PM10, Benzene, Styrene, 1,3-Butadiene, Toluene, Propylene, etc.
Metal Recycling Process Issues
• Torch Cutting [metals, Particulate Matter (PM), odor,
• Shredding [PM, metals, Volatile Organic Chemicals
(VOCs), explosions]
• Shearing (PM, metals, noise)
• Crushing (PM, VOCs, explosions)
• Conveyors (PM, noise)
• Materials handling (PM, metals, Storm Water Runoff or
referred to MS4 in Houston)
• Unpaved areas (PM, MS4)
• Runoff (metals, organic fluids)
• Fluid transfers [Freon, BTEX, VOC & Semi-Volatile Organic
Compounds (SVOCs) emissions, spills and fire]
• Equipment emissions [Nitrous Oxides (NOx), diesel PM,
What We Found
• Cd, Cr & Pb associated with metal coatings
• Elevated Fe at all ferrous metal sites and Co, Cr, Mn &
Ni with ferrous alloys and stainless steel processing
• Cu, Co, Cr, Mn & Ni associated with nonferrous
• Ag associated with a Ag reclamation facility
• BTEX, Freon and other VOCs associated with sites
accepting vehicles, appliances & used 55 gallon drums,
notably elevated levels when such items are shredded
without a bag house
Building Partnerships to Respond
 Task force between metal recycling trade groups and
Houston Health & Human Services Department
 Community-Academic Coalition established to secure
federal funding to support a collaborative effort
 Academics, Houston Health & Human Services
Department, Air Alliance Houston, Metal Recyclers,
and Neighborhood Residents
Air Monitoring and Outreach at Schools
Measurements have found no significant concerns
EPA Village Green Project
• An innovative, solar-powered air-monitoring system designed and incorporated into
a park bench
• It will measure real-time Ozone, PM2.5 and weather conditions
• City of Houston is coordinating with EPA future placement of Village Green monitor
Thank You!
Bureau of Pollution Control and Prevention
Main: (832) 393-5730
Complaints: 311

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