Residents cough, rub eyes in Harvey pollution spike

GALENA PARK, Texas (AP) – People living near the nation’s highest concentration of petrochemical plants in metro Houston say the air is bad enough on normal days.

It got worse as Harvey crashed in and the nation’s fourth-largest city recorded the highest ozone pollution of the year in Texas.

Petrochemical plants and refineries reported more than 1.5 million pounds (680 metric tons) of extraordinary emissions over eight days beginning Aug. 23 in Harris County, which encompasses Houston.

That was five times the amount released in the same period in 2016.

People complained of headaches, nausea, itchy skin and throats as plants raced to burn off compounds that could combust in extreme weather or power loss.

State environmental officials say measurements were well below levels of concern, but most air monitors were knocked out by the storm.

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