Measuring Air Quality in the Lone Star State

If you live in a city in Texas, you’ve likely driven by an air monitoring station without knowing it was there.

TCEQ is responsible for protecting the state’s resources and ensuring clean air for the residents of Texas. Air quality is impacted by both man-made sources such as industrial emissions and vehicle exhaust, and naturally occurring sources such as Saharan dust.

TCEQ uses stationary air monitors to measure air quality in populated areas across the state receiving data from more than 200 monitoring stations statewide.

TCEQ owns and operates about 150 of those and monitoring partners, such as local governments, universities, non-profits, and industry account for the remainder of the stations.

Data from the monitors are used to determine compliance with federal air quality standards, perform air quality and health impact reviews, and provide daily air quality forecasts. It is also used to forecast ozone action day alerts, Saharan dust events and Mexican/Central American smoke events resulting from agricultural burns. The data also feeds into EPA’s AirNow service.

TCEQ performs an annual review of its air monitoring network to determine the appropriate number, location, and need for additional monitors.

TCEQ recently added new monitoring stations in the Midland-Odessa area, Houston Ship Channel area, and the San Antonio and New Braunfels areas.

Over the past five years, the Austin area has only had one day in which air quality levels fell into the “unhealthy” category (level red) based on EPA’s Air Quality Index, which was during last June’s Saharan dust event. Houston and Dallas average approximately three days per year, when air quality levels fall into the “unhealthy” AQI range.

In addition to stationary air monitors, TCEQ also uses monitoring vans and handheld monitors to measure air contaminants when responding to specific localized air quality concerns, emergencies, or disasters.

You can help minimize air quality impacts by:
• Carpooling and limiting idling
• Not topping off your gas tank
• Keeping your vehicle well maintained
• Conserving energy
• Using low or zero VOC paints/cleaning products
• Not burning yard waste

Visit for more ways on how to help keep the air clean. Visit for more information about ozone.

If you want to learn even more about stationary air monitoring in Texas, watch Deputy Director of Monitoring Cory Chism and Monitoring Division Team Lead Neal Penney walk KXAN Meteorologist Kristen Currie through some of TCEQ’s air measuring technology.