The air Denton County residents breathe could put their health at risk, according to the State of the Air 2024 report from the American Lung Association. However, residents could breathe cleaner air in about five years following the development of a new plan to reduce regional emissions.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments submitted its Priority Climate Action Plan to the Environmental Protection Agency on March 1, the first step in an effort to improve air quality throughout North Texas.

“The higher the concentration of these toxic substances in the air, the more unhealthy the air is for breathing, even in people who are healthy,” said Dr. Olakunle Iluyomade, a pulmonologist on staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Flower Mound, adding people should be aware of how pollutants can cause lung irritations that can trigger serious illness.

Two-minute impact

Iluyomade said air quality can affect the lungs in a number of ways, including causing serious conditions and diseases.

He said poor air quality can harm lungs in the long- and short-term. The long-term harm can affect those who suffer from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and COVID-19. Those conditions even could have been under good control previously until those people encountered pulmonary infections from pollutants.

The Priority Climate Action Plan covers the next five years and has 42 actionable measures, Senior Air Quality Planner Savana Nance said. If all measures are fully implemented, the region could see a reduction in ground-level ozone, which has been rising in North Texas for the last three years. Ground-level ozone is a harmful air pollutant and the main ingredient of smog, according to the EPA.

Flower Mound completed a trails and bikeways plan in 2022 that could help reduce the number of vehicles on the road, Parks and Recreation Director Chuck Jennings said.

"A well-planned trails and bikeways system can promote active transportation, reducing reliance on fossil fuel-powered vehicles and subsequently decreasing harmful emissions,” Jennings said.


The plan’s 42 measures include initiatives such as funding infrastructure for low-emission and electric vehicles. Traffic and idling automobiles are factors that cause pollutants that affect air quality.

Despite improvements made over the past 20-30 years, North Texas is still not meeting the attainment standard for ground-level ozone set by the EPA, Nance said. The region’s population growth may have contributed to stalls in air quality improvement. Denton County’s population increased more than 100% between 2002 and 2022, per data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The EPA website lists several activities individuals can do to help air quality:
  • Reduce air pollution by walking or bicycling.
  • Reduce electricity use.
  • Improve indoor air quality by using things such as air purifiers.
  • Help prevent wildfires by avoiding using fire on dry, hot days.
Why it matters

Ten counties in North Texas, including Denton, do not meet federal standards for ground-level ozone concentration, which can impact quality of life and respiratory health for North Texas residents.

To reach attainment, each North Texas monitor has to report less than 75 parts per billion in ozone concentration on a three-year average. The region’s ozone average was reported at 81 parts per billion between 2021-23.

What's next?

The council of governments will make every effort to collaborate with the region in implementing improvement measures, Nance said.

In Argyle, town officials have concentrated their efforts to improve air on the tree canopy, Mayor Rick Bradford said. The town aims to have a 35% tree coverage over the entire town. Argyle was at 31% in May 2024.

“One of the aspects of that is the clean air and environment,” he said.

He said the town has not been involved in clean air initiatives but it is something they may consider. Argyle does not have manufacturing or high-impact businesses, but auto traffic does contribute to the air’s quality, Bradford said.

The full plan is available at