Industrial progress has powered significant growth in Dallas over the last few decades. The Dallas-Fort Worth industrial market continues to grow, as does the metroplex’s population (around 7.6 million people as of the 2020 census). But unfortunately, vibrant growth has been accompanied by increasing levels of air pollution.
The American Lung Association reported in 2023 that the Dallas-Fort Worth metro ranked 18th out of 227 metro areas for high ozone days. High ozone days occur when weather conditions combine with pollutants in the air to form high levels of ozone at ground level. Higher ozone levels can cause harmful health effects and can lead to serious issues for sensitive groups, such as those with asthma. Some Dallas residents, like those in Joppa, face even worse air pollution than the metro as a whole, leading to a higher prevalence of breathing conditions.
With air pollution posing an ever-pressing threat, how can Dallas residents ensure that their indoor air quality and the metroplex’s air quality as a whole are safe and conducive to wellness? We’ll tackle these questions and more in this overview of air pollution in Dallas and what you can do about it.
Understanding the Air We Breathe
The air we breathe in Dallas contains a blend of pollutants that are common across large metropolitan areas. Vehicle traffic adds nitrogen oxides to the air and factories often emit sulfur dioxide. Particulate matter also permeates the air in the form of dirt, dust, smoke, soot, and even metal particles. These particles can enter the bloodstream and impair lung function, potentially leading to serious health complications.
Thankfully, some agencies and organizations regularly monitor air quality to help us understand the air we breathe.
- The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) provides comprehensive reports on air quality and pollutant sources.
- The American Lung Association releases annual “State of the Air” reports and has highlighted Dallas-Fort Worth as one of the top 25 worst cities in the nation for ozone pollution.
- Dallas Climate Action manages the Dallas Community Air Management Program and provides air-quality data.
Monitoring Indoor Air Quality
While the overall air quality in Dallas will take significant time, effort, resources, and litigation to improve, residents aren’t left without options. If you are concerned about how poor air quality may impact your and your family’s health, you can begin positively impacting the air you breathe by monitoring your indoor air quality.
Today, any household has the opportunity to accurately understand their air quality with air pollution monitors. Air pollution monitors measure pollutants like particulate matter, radon, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, and more. Many air pollution monitors are low-cost, but smart monitors that give you real-time data via an app are also available.
However you choose to monitor your air quality, the data offers a path to improvement. With data measured in your own household, you can make informed decisions about improving your air quality with options like ventilation, air purifiers, and even cleaning products.
Choosing Air Purification Solutions
The average American spends about 90 percent of their time indoors. That adds up to 21.6 hours a day and 151 out of 164 hours in a week. With so much of our time spent inside, it’s worth considering making whatever improvements we can to homes’ air. Making use of portable air purifiers and improved HVAC filtering are two of the simplest ways to make a big impact on your indoor air quality.
Air Purifiers for Your Home
Air purifiers are commonly designed to filter air in a single room or area of your home. Here are a few tips for you to consider as you consider an air purifier for your home.
- Look for air purifiers that utilize high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.
- Be sure to select an air purifier that has a high enough clean air delivery rate (CADR) for the area you intend to use it. Manufacturers will commonly list the square footage recommended for a specific model of purifier
- HEPA filters filter our particulate matter, not gases. Activated carbon filters can help filter some gases, so you may want to look for a unit with a high CADR and an activated carbon filter.
Air purifiers now come in a variety of sizes, styles, and prices, so finding the right purifiers to suit the unique needs of your home shouldn’t be too challenging.
HVAC Filtering in Your Home
Choosing a higher-efficiency filter for your HVAC system can also improve your indoor air quality. Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering an HVAC filter:
- You’ll want to identify how high a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating your system can accommodate. Ideally, you’ll find a high-efficiency filter with a MERV rating rating of 13 or higher.
- Keep in mind that your HVAC filter only filters the air in your home when it is actively heating or cooling. Typically, an HVAC unit is running less than 25 percent of the time during heating and cooling seasons, and you may have extended periods where you do not need to run it at all.
You may want to consider using an air purifier in conjunction with an upgraded HVAC filter for the most air purification benefits for your family.
Harnessing Natural Air Purifiers
Technology can certainly boost the quality of our air, but nature offers us its own solution: plants. Adding greenery to your living space can naturally detoxify the air you breathe in your home.
- Snake Plant: This favorite for the bedroom can filter toxins like formaldehyde and xylene from the air. It also releases oxygen at night (most plants do so during the day) to help you breathe easier while you sleep.
- English Ivy: This perennial vine can filter out toxins in the air like trichloroethylene and benzene. Keeping it generously watered will enable it to clean your air for years to come.
- Peace Lily: These houseplants aren’t true lilies but they can produce a beautiful flower and are easy to care for. They’ll also help purify your air every day. Just be careful around small children and pets because peace lilies are mildly toxic to animals and humans.
Visiting a local nursery may be your best option for sourcing the right plants for your home. You’ll have the seasoned expertise of the staff to help you find the best houseplants for your situation.
Maintaining a Clean Indoor Environment
Consistent cleaning can also help you improve your indoor air quality. Regular dusting and vacuuming can help cut down the particulate matter in your home. You also want to avoid synthetic air fresheners, which can disperse formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylenes into the air. Proper ventilation with exterior exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen can remove unwanted carbon monoxide and humidity from your air.
Keeping up with the cleaning isn’t always the easiest, but a clean home can sure contribute to a healthier environment for you and your family. CottageCare offers home cleaning services in Dallas that will keep you breathing easy all year round. With our 165-point checklist, you can rest assured that your home will stay spotless and safe from unwanted dust, debris, and pollutants.
Engaging with Community Initiatives
Cleaner air is a community affair. If we don’t work together for a cleaner, healthier Dallas, then we risk further pollution and negative health effects with each passing year. Initiatives like Air North Texas build awareness and provide resources for cleaner air. The Air North Texas campaign provides educational resources for parents and teachers, actionable tips on how to take action, and more. The first Friday of June has also been declared Clean Air Action Day, which is an opportunity for Dallasites to come together and participate in clean air activities as a community.
Advocating for Cleaner Outdoor Air
Cleaner Air is essential for everyone. For the health of our familes and generations to come, we at CottageCare encourage everyone to take whatever steps you can to limit the pollutants you add to our Dallas air.
- Could you carpool, use mass transit, bike, or walk to work or your errands?
- Could you combine trips or stay local to drive less overall?
- Do you have gas equipment like lawn mowers that could be upgraded to electric models?
- Could you use energy-efficient lighting and appliances to reduce your energy consumption?
We each have the opportunity to take little steps to toward a greener, cleaner future. If you desire to get more involved in advocating for cleaner air in Dallas, you may consider contacting the Office of Environmental Quality & Sustainability, which addresses concerns about air quality in the City of Dallas. Your Dallas city council member and state senator can also help address air quality issues and may be able to help you advocate for positive systemic change.
Enhancing Our Air Quality for All
Dallasites can expect a bright future for their hometown. We are poised for growth and prosperity, and there are no signs of slowing down. However, to ensure a safer, cleaner, and healthier Dallas for everyone, we must all take an active role in improving our air quality. When we can all breathe a little easier, we’re that much closer to a prosperous metro for all.
If you’re unsure about where to begin, why not start at home? The ideas we’ve laid out here can help you improve your indoor air quality in your household with minimal effort. From purifiers and plants to filters and cleaning, we can all take simple steps to benefit ourselves and our loved ones.
CottageCare wants to help you keep your home safe and clean for a happier and healthier space. Get in touch with us today to learn how our residential cleaning services in Dallas can help you and your loved ones breathe a little easier today.