Glossary

Term List

Air Pollution Watch

An announcement issued when the following day is predicted to be a public health risk due to excessive air pollution. Air Pollution Watch days are intended to encourage citizens to reduce ozone producing behaviors to help the region avoid ozone exceedance target levels on that day. An Air Pollution Watch is issued via e-mail from the TCEQ's Austin headquarters. To receive e-mail Air Pollution Watch notices go to http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/compliance/monitoring/air/monops/ozone_email.html

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Air Pollution Warning

An announcement issued when actual air pollution measurements reach levels deemed to be unhealthy by the Environmental Protection Agency. Air Pollution Warnings are issued via e-mail from the TCEQ's Austin headquarters to local authorities, news organizations and interested citizens within approximately 30 minutes after ozone measurements reach unhealthy levels. To receive e-mail Air Pollution Warnings go to http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/compliance/monitoring/air/monops/ozone_email.html

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Alternative Fuel

A fuel that can replace ordinary gasoline. Alternative fuels may have desirable energy efficiency and pollution reduction features. Alternative fuels include compressed natural gas (CNG), alcohols, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and electricity.

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Ambient Air

Outdoor air.

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Attainment

For a region to be "in attainment," hourly measurements of air pollution in that region must not exceed those designated to be safe by the Federal Clean Air Act.

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Compliance

For a region to be "in compliance," hourly measurements of air pollution in that region must not exceed those designated to be safe by the Federal Clean Air Act.

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Emission

Release of pollutants into the air from a source.

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Exceedance

A measurement of air pollution that exceeds the level designated to be safe by the Federal Clean Air Act in any given hour or on any given day.

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Mobile Source

A moving object that emits pollutants. Mobile sources are divided into two categories: on-road sources include cars, trucks, sport utility vehicles, motorcycles, and buses; off-road sources include airplanes, trains, motorboats and lawn mowers.

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Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)

A criteria air pollutant. Nitrogen oxides are produced from burning fuels, including gasoline and coal. Nitrogen oxides react with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to form ozone, the main component of urban smog. Nitrogen oxides are also a precursor pollutant that contributes to the formation of acid rain.

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Nonattainment

A region is said to be in "nonattainment" when hourly measurements of air pollution in that region exceed those designated to be safe by the Federal Clean Air Act.

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Non-Compliance

A region is said to be in "non-compliance" when hourly measurements of air pollution in that region exceed those designated to be safe by the Federal Clean Air Act.

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Ozone

Ground-level ozone is the main ingredient in urban smog. In the presence of sunlight and heat, gaseous air pollutants react to produce ground-level ozone smog. These pollutants have many sources including automobiles, trucks, buses and industrial smokestacks. Additional sources include gasoline stations, outboard motors, lawn, garden, construction and farm equipment; oil-based paints and some household products.

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Ozone (O3)

A gas that is a type of oxygen. Oxygen normally found in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) consists of two oxygen atoms bound together; ozone consists of three oxygen atoms bound together. Ozone occurs naturally in the earth's upper atmosphere (stratosphere) and helps to block out harmful ultraviolet radiation, particularly ultraviolet B radiation. Ground-level ozone, however, is the main contributor to urban smog.

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Ozone Exceedance

A measurement of ground-level ozone that exceeds the level designated to be safe by the Federal Clean Air Act in any given hour or on any given day.

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Ozone Season

Typical weather conditions in North Texas promote the likelihood of ozone exceedances occurring during the months of May through October, so these months are collectively referred to as "Ozone Season."

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Particulate matter/particles (PM)

A criteria air pollutant. There are two categories of particulate matter, particles that are 10 microns or less in diameter (coarse particulates or PM10), and particles that are 2.5 microns or less in diameter (fine particulates, or PM2.5). Coarse particulate matter has been a criteria pollutant for many years; however, fine particulate matter is the most recent criteria pollutant category for which the EPA has set a national standard. Coarse particulates include dust, soot, and other small particles that are released into the air, usually by activities that involve the crushing, grinding, and abrading of surfaces. Construction activities, the burning of wood, agricultural burning, and certain industrial processes also create coarse particulate matter. Fine particulates result primarily from combustion processes. The burning of different fuels, whether from industrial, residential, or mobile sources, releases very small particles that can coalesce in the air and react with other chemicals.

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Pollutant/Pollution

A chemical or other material found in the air that can be harmful to human health, the environment, agricultural crops, and property. Many air pollutants occur as gases or vapors, but some are tiny solid particles such as dust, smoke, or soot.

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Reformulated Gasoline (RFG)

Specially refined gasoline with low levels of smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and low levels of hazardous air pollutants. The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments require the sale of RFG in the nine smoggiest areas of the U.S.

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Share A Ride

When an individual chooses any alternative rather than driving alone. Options include carpooling, vanpooling and using mass transit.

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SIP: State Implementation Plan

The State Implementation Plan is the document the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality must submit to the Environmental Protection Agency for each nonattainment region to show how that region plans to reduce air pollution to acceptable levels.

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TCEQ: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The State agency that regulates environmental matters in Texas. TCEQ is the organization responsible for working with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to determine what measures should be enforced in Texas to allow each region to meet federal air quality standards.

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Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)

An organic chemical that produces vapors readily at room temperature and normal atmospheric pressure. Organic chemicals contain the element carbon (C) and are the basic chemicals found in living things and in the products derived from living things, such as coal, petroleum, and refined petroleum products. Many of the organic chemicals we use do not occur in nature, but are synthesized by chemists in laboratories. Volatile organic chemicals include gasoline, industrial chemicals such as benzine, solvents such as toluene and xylene, and perchloroethylene, the principal dry cleaning solvent. Many VOCs are classified as hazardous air pollutants.

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