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Air Quality Budget Item Championed by Public Citizen Signed Into Law

Gov. Abbott had previously vetoed particulate matter monitoring funding

AUSTIN, Texas – A budget item for additional funding for particulate matter monitoring supported by Public Citizen became law last week. The fate of the funds was in question after similar measures had fallen victim to a Gov. Greg Abbott line-item veto in previous legislative sessions.

The item adds $2.5 million to the state budget that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will distribute to different parts of the state to track particulate matter pollution. These planning funds are important as the U.S. Environmental protection agency considers lowering the fine particulate matter standard – a move that could see many areas across Texas fall out of compliance with the Clean Air Act.

“This funding could be critical, especially in communities where excessive air pollution is a part of daily life,” said Adrian Shelley, Texas director of Public Citizen. “Particulate matter is dangerous. The wildfires in Canada that recently blanketed much of the East Coast with smoke and carried harmful particulate are just one example of how this pollution can harm millions of people. In Texas, robust particulate matter monitoring is needed as one of the tools to keep people’s health out of harm’s way.”

Particulate matter is one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution. Because the particles can be tiny – several times smaller than the width of a human hair in some cases – they can make it deep into a person’s lungs and the bloodstream, causing negative health effects like heart and lung disease and exacerbating symptoms for people with asthma. Common sources of this type of pollution in Texas are concrete batch plants, burning of fossil fuels, metal recyclers, and others.