The Smoggiest Place in Houston

Picnic Area at Bayland Park, near Bissonnet and Hillcroft

Looking for a home in an in-town location, but don’t want to miss that exhilarating feeling you get from East Side neighborhoods near the Ship Channel?

Why not start your search near Bayland Park, at the corner of Bissonnet and Hillcroft, just west of Bellaire? It’s outside the Loop, far to the west of Houston’s industrial areas, close to some of some of the city’s most dynamic neighborhoods . . . and recently was rated one of the most consistently smoggy places in Houston.

That’s right: Smog is worse on the West Side.

The data may surprise many Houstonians who associate smog with the chemical refining and industrial byproducts that foul the air in East Harris County.

In fact, the highest ozone readings in the city are routinely captured by monitors located on Houston’s densely populated southwest side. Recent data shows Bayland Park, just west of Bellaire, to be one of Houston’s smoggiest neighborhoods. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Bayland Park monitor, located in the 6400 block of Bissonnet Street, recorded 45 days in the last three years when ozone levels violated public health standards.

During that period, the monitor registered ozone concentrations as high as or greater than those recorded by monitors in the Ship Channel region.

Howzat happen?

University of Texas chemical engineer David Allen analyzed data collected by the Bayland Park monitor in 2006. He and others determined that climate patterns explained the high ozone concentrations on Houston’s west side. Based on computerized modeling of weather patterns, Allen said nearly every incident of excessive ozone levels in Bayland Park that year happened on days characterized by the same weather pattern: hot and sunny, with still air in the morning and light winds from the east blowing in the afternoon.

“The east winds pick up Ship Channel air and carry it all the way into west Houston where it settles over neighborhoods,” Allen said.

That’s the smell of money.

Photo: Harris County Precinct 3