The City of Austin Air Quality Program's goal is to promote healthy outdoor air for all residents while also reducing traffic congestion. Addressing the impact of City operations and actions on air quality and traffic congestion with outreach, policy, and educational resources provides Austin residents a better quality of life. Driving less, carpooling, and reducing vehicle idling help improve Austin's air quality.
Ground-Level Ozone Basics
The primary air quality concern in Austin is ground-level ozone, which is the main component of smog. Ozone forms when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) combine and "cook" in the sun. Vehicle engines, electric generation units, industrial facilities and many everyday activities create man-made sources of NOx and VOCs. Unhealthy levels of ozone can lead to increased respiratory ailments, especially in young children, the older adults, asthma sufferers, and those with chronic conditions. Elevated levels of ozone can also damage vegetation and structure facades. Regional data confirms that automobiles, account for nearly 50% of ozone-forming emissions released within Central Texas. The Air Quality Program encourages everyone take action by at least once a week selecting an alternative to driving alone to work, such as carpooling.