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Health and Human Services

BPCP-Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. What should I do if I smell or see smoke, odor or dust that may be causing a nuisance from a specific address or location?

 

Call 311 or go to Houston 311.



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2. How can I tell if air pollution is elevated today?

 

Call (832) 393-5612 for the bureau’s morning air pollution forecast recording. The recording is updated each weekday morning by bureau’s personnel, and is based on daily forecasts by the TCEQ. These forecasts are available at today’s ozone forecast (TCEQ) and today’s Texas air quality forecast (TCEQ). The recording describes the air pollution level for the day as low, moderate, or elevated.



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3. What should I do if I observe a significant air pollution release or if I think a company is violating air pollution regulations?

 

Call 311 or go to Houston 311.



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4. My next-door neighbor conducts auto body repair, welding and sandblasting in his backyard. Who do I complain to about the odor, paint over-spray and fumes that come onto my property? Does my neighbor need a permit to conduct these activities?

 

Call 311 or go to Houston 311.



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5. What should I do if I see or smell gasoline coming from a gasoline nozzle/pump at a gas station/convenience store?

 

Call 311 or go to Houston 311. They will take the complaint and refer it to the proper agency.



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6. Are companies that emit air pollutants required to register or get a permit?

 

Companies that emit air pollutants must qualify as a “De Minimis Facility”, claim a “permit-by-rule”, or obtain a state air permit from TCEQ. Companies may also need to obtain a U.S. EPA Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) air permit. To determine if a smaller company needs to register under the City of Houston local air pollution ordinance call 311 or go to Houston 311.



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7. What should I do if I suspect the release of Freon into the air from a vehicle or building air conditioner?

 

Call the U.S. EPA at (214) 665-7229 or 1-800-296-1996.



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8. What should I do if I observe demolition/construction activities that I suspect emit lead paint or asbestos into the air?

 

For airborne lead paint call 3-1-1 or go to Houston 311. They will take the complaint and refer it to the proper agency. For asbestos call the Texas Department of State Health Services at (713) 767-3000 or 1-888-963-7111.



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9. Who addresses general air pollution concerns like haze?

 

Call 311 or go to Houston 311. You can also call the Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services (HCPHES) at (713) 920-2831, or the TCEQ Region 12 office at (713) 767-3712.



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10. The car I recently purchased has had its emissions control system tampered with and cannot pass an emissions test. What can I do?

 

Call 311 or go to Houston 311.



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11. What should I do if I see a smoking vehicle in Houston?

 

Contact the TCEQ Smoking vehicle program at 1-800-453-SMOG (7664), or click here.



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12. What should I do to protect my family and myself if there is an air pollution problem (like high ozone levels) in Houston?

 

People should stay inside as much as possible and reduce personal activities, like exercise, which increases the rate and volume of the air that you breathe.



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13. What can I do to improve the air quality in Houston?

 

Go to do your part for a cleaner environment.


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14. How can I find out the air monitoring data near where I live and work?

 

Check out the maps of air monitoring sites and summary reports of the hourly data collected at each site:

 



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15. What do I do if I see someone dumping trash or hazardous substances into the bayou?

 

Immediately contact your local police department, call 3-1-1 or go to Houston 311.



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16. Who do I call about mowing the banks of the bayou behind my house?

 

Call the Harris County Flood Control District  at (713) 684-4197. They are responsible for maintaining the banks of all bayous in the Houston area.



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17. What kind of fish are in the bayou? Can they be eaten?

 

See pictures of some Houston’s local wildlife. Testing of fish caught in the Houston metropolitan area has not been conducted, and therefore no data exist as to whether or not they are safe to eat. However, consumption advisories do exist for the San Jacinto River near the Ship Channel, as well as Clear Lake and Galveston Bay.



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18. How is the water?

 

Water quality in our area can fluctuate greatly. Rainfall is one factor that has a large impact on the amount of pollutants and bacteria entering local bayous. All streams within the incorporated city limits of Houston are currently classified as “impaired” for bacteria, meaning they exceed the recreational contact standard of 394 colonies of E. coli/100ml of sample. This means that the water may potentially be hazardous to the health of swimmers and boaters, and contact should be minimum.



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19. Why do you test for E. coli?

 

Escherichia coli is a bacteria that is found in human waste, and is known as an “indicator” bacteria. Low levels are of this indicator in the stream is a sign that wastewater is being treated properly, and that sewers are functioning as they should. When high levels of this bacteria are found in a water body, a problem most likely exists somewhere, and the water is temporarily unsafe for human contact.



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20. Are the bayous safe to swim in?

     
No. Since our waters exceed the recreational contact standard set forth by the state, activities which have potential for water to be ingested, such as swimming, are not advisable. Boating or canoeing or other activities that involve indirect contact with a stream should be done with caution.



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