Houston could meet federal smog limits

HOUSTON (AP) - Breathing easier could soon be a reality in the Houston area, thanks to industry smog cleanup efforts and weather.

The Houston Chronicle reports the region for the first time could meet federal limits for lung-irritating smog, based on a three-year running average.

The Environmental Protection Agency says the data is preliminary and will be reviewed. EPA spokesman David Bary says the initial information indicates "the news is good."

Ozone, the key ingredient in smog, is produced when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, which are released from vehicles and smokestacks, heat in sunlight.

The limit is 84 parts per billion, or 84 molecules of ozone for every billion molecules of air. Houston's air, once considered dirtiest in the country, measured 84 parts per billion through Monday.

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