The City of Houston is home to an estimated 2,312,717 residents, and it’s located in Harris County, TX.
This report will help you become better acquainted with Houston and the surrounding area by addressing the following questions:
Are there any hazardous sites in Harris County, TX?
How clean is the air in Harris County, TX?
What’s the average radon level for homes in Harris County, TX?
Is the water in Harris County, TX safe to drink?
Hazardous Sites near Houston, TX
There are 13 Superfund sites in Harris County, TX. Superfund sites, like French, Ltd. in Crosby, TX, are areas that have been contaminated with hazardous substances. If not for the cleanup efforts orchestrated by the EPA, these sites could endanger people living in nearby communities.
The EPA uses the Hazardous Ranking System (HRS) to quantify the risk a contaminated site poses to human health and the environment. Sites assigned HRS scores of 28.5 or greater qualify for placement on the National Priorities List (NPL), and are eligible to receive federal funding for cleanup efforts.
Before the EPA deletes a site from the NPL, it conducts reviews to ensure the cleanup was sufficient. As a result, some sites remain on the active site list long after cleanup activities are complete.
For more information about the Superfund sites located in the Houston, TX area, be sure to review the map and background information provided below:
A. French, Ltd. (HRS Score: 63)
The French, Ltd. site, where 70 million gallons of industrial wastes from petrochemical companies were disposed between 1966 and 1971, is located in Crosby, TX.
Contaminants found at the French, Ltd. site include:
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
B. Sikes Disposal Pits (HRS Score: 62)
The Sikes Disposal Pits site, the location of an illegal dump from 1961 until 1967, is located in Crosby, TX.
Contaminants found at the Sikes Disposal Pits site include:
C. Crystal Chemical Co. (HRS Score: 61)
The Crystal Chemical Co. site, the location of herbicide manufacturing operations, is located in Houston, TX.
The EPA found dangerous levels of Arsenic at the Crystal Chemical Co. site.
D. Geneva Industries/Fuhrmann Energy (HRS Score: 59)
The Geneva Industries/Fuhrmann Energy site, formerly used for petroleum exploration and petrochemical production, is located in Houston, TX.
Contaminants found at the Geneva Industries/Fuhrmann Energy site include:
The San Jacinto River Waste Pits site, used for the disposal of pulp and paper mill waste beginning in the 1960s, is located in Channelview, TX.
F. Us Oil Recovery (HRS Score: 50)
The Us Oil Recovery site, which received municipal and industrial waste, including wastewater, used oil and oily sludges, is located in Pasadena, TX.
G. Patrick Bayou (HRS Score: 48)
The Patrick Bayou site, which received permitted wastewater discharges, is located in Deer Park, TX.
H. Jones Road Ground Water Plume (HRS Score: 47)
The Jones Road Ground Water Plume site, caused by the former Bell Dry Cleaners facility, is located in Houston, TX.
Contaminants found at the Jones Road Ground Water Plume site include:
Chloroethene (Vinyl Chloride)
I. Sol Lynn/Industrial Transformers (HRS Score: 40)
The Sol Lynn/Industrial Transformers site, a former electrical transformer salvage and recycling company, is located in Houston, TX.
Contaminants found at the Sol Lynn/Industrial Transformers site include:
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
Chloroethene (Vinyl Chloride)
J. South Cavalcade Street (HRS Score: 39)
The South Cavalcade Street site, the former location of a wood treatment plant and a coal tar distillation plant, is located in Houston, TX.
Contaminants found at the South Cavalcade Street site include:
K. Highlands Acid Pit (HRS Score: 38)
The Highlands Acid Pit site, previously used for the disposal of waste from oil and gas refining processes, is located in Highlands, TX.
Contaminants found at the Highlands Acid Pit site include:
L. North Cavalcade Street (HRS Score: 37)
The North Cavalcade Street site, used for wood preservation operations from 1946 until 1961, is located in Houston, TX.
Contaminants found at the North Cavalcade Street site include:
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
M. Many Diversified Interests, Inc. (HRS Score: 32)
The Many Diversified Interests, Inc. site, which includes a former foundry and residential yards, is located in Houston, TX.
Contaminants found at the Many Diversified Interests, Inc. site include:
Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH)
Air Quality in the Houston, TX Area
The two most widespread forms of air pollution are ozone (smog) and particle pollution (soot). Exposure to these harmful pollutants, for even just a short period, can have adverse effects on your health.
Thanks to data collected by air monitoring equipment located across the country, the American Lung Association (ALA) is able to assess and track our air quality using three metrics:
Short-term Particle Pollution
Year-round Particle Pollution
In their 2019 annual report, the ALA rated the air quality in Harris County, TX as follows:
Grading Scale: A-F
Grading Scale: A-F
Grading Scale: Pass/Fail
Radon Levels in Houston, TX Area
Air quality inside your home can be impacted by a number of factors, including the presence of hazardous substances in building materials (asbestos, lead, formaldehyde, etc.) and local radon levels.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas you cannot see or smell. It can build up inside your home and negatively impact your indoor air quality as well as your health.
To provide a guideline, the EPA assigned one of three zones to each U.S. county and county equivalent:
Zone 1 (higher radon levels)
Zone 2 (moderate levels)
Zone 3 (lower levels)
The average indoor radon reading in Harris County, TX is predicted to be less than 2 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), so the county has been assigned EPA Radon Zone 3.
EPA Radon Zone
But, it's worth mentioning homes with elevated levels of radon have been found in all three radon zones. So, despite the fact Houston, TX is in EPA Radon Zone 3, you should have a radon test performed on any home you purchase in the area.
Water Quality in Houston, TX Area
In accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the EPA sets regulatory limits for drinking water contaminants known to cause adverse health effects.
The following Harris County, TX water provider(s) violated the maximum allowable level for one or more regulated contaminants:
In addition to setting enforceable standards for harmful contaminants, the EPA also established guidelines to assist public water providers in managing the taste, odor and color of their drinking water.
To find out more about what’s in your drinking water, contact your utility company and request a copy of the latest Consumer Confidence Report.
Sources and Methods
Hazardous Sites: Identified using a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hazardous sites detailed on trendingtowns.com represent sites contained on the National Priorities List (NPL) as of November 25, 2019. The NPL is the list of national priorities among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories. All site-related data was sourced from the EPA.
Air Quality: Grades for ozone, short-term particle pollution, and year-round particle pollution were obtained from State of the Air 2019, a report compiled by the American Lung Association.
Radon Zones: Radon zone designations were obtained using a public use dataset provided by the EPA (September 11, 2019).
Water Quality: Drinking water violation data was sourced from the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS), a public use database provided by the EPA. The dataset included violations submitted to the database as of the third quarter of 2019.
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