When most people think polluted air and Texas cities, the names that come to mind are places like Houston, Dallas and Austin. However, the most polluted city in Texas is actually Denton.

Lubbock has a population of nearly 240,000 people. Denton has a population around 123,000. Yet Lubbock has significantly cleaner air.

Believe it or not, the air quality in Lubbock is actually pretty good. In fact, you can check current conditions anytime you like at AirNow.gov. Pollution is low, and unless it's a particularly dusty or allergen-ridden day, there's no need to worry about the air outside.

When pollution is as high as Denton's, not only do people have respiratory problems, it also kills area plants. It's bad for every living thing in the area.

So why is Denton's air quality so poor? To be fair, it is pretty close to the Dallas Metroplex, but it's worse than Dallas. There's not actually a hard and fast consensus on what is causing the problem, but most sensible folks would probably consider that it could be a combination of factors, including these postulated by The Dallas Observer:

Cement Kilns South of Dallas, in Midlothian, sits the country's largest concentration of cement plants, a major polluter in North Texas. And areas downwind, like Denton, tend to bear the brunt of the pollution.

 

Idling Trucks [...] Collin, Dallas, Kaufman and Tarrant counties have all implemented anti-idling measures, barring trucks of 14,000 pounds or more from idling for more than five minutes. But Denton County has yet to adopt such a policy.

 

The Natural Gas Industry [...] It's not just fracking itself but the accompanying compressor stations, processing plants and trucks that make the whole industry possible. And while other industries -- even cement -- are required to make an effort to offset their pollution under the Clean Air Act, the natural gas industry has been largely exempt, making it harder for the rest of the state to be in compliance.

And the last culprit, which government agencies would of course like to pin the whole problem on, is the wind.

"Southeast to northwest winds mean that Denton often gets stuck with the pollution created by the Midlothian region and other parts of Texas," according to the The Dallas Observer. Basically, "stuff" may roll downhill, but if it's airborne, it blows up into Denton.

Regardless of what the main culprit is, simple measures could be taken to at least reduce the asthma and other serious illness-inducing contaminants in the air. For example, 18-wheelers shouldn't be allowed to idle their vehicles. That's simple enough and doesn't cost anything. Removing the "grandfathered" status to old, dirty cement plants would cost the cement plant, but not tax payers. As for the natural gas industry, that would require state-wide efforts.

And for Lubbock? Let's keep it clean. Don't idle your vehicles. Save your future self from COPD and other respiratory problems.

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