This interactive map shows how Texans are affected by the fine particles they inhale from natural and industrial sources. It is based on a study by data researcher Luke Bryan and Dr. Philip Landrigan, an epidemiologist and air-pollution expert at Boston College. They analyzed data from 2016 NASA satellite imaging (the most recent available) and state and national databases to estimate the health impacts of fine particles — 8,405 deaths in Texas that year alone. The problem has likely grown worse with the rapid expansion of the state’s petrochemical industry.

To see how particulate matter affects your community, search for your county or address, then hover over or tap the area to see the estimated deaths. Click to see other health problems caused by fine particles. 

The map also shows how much particulate matter is in each community. The World Health Organization recommends that a cubic meter of air contain no more than an annual average of 5 micrograms (µg/m3) of particles that are 2.5 microns or less in width (PM2.5). The current U.S. standard is 12 µg/m3 of PM2.5, but it is expected to be lowered to between 9 µg/m3 and 10 µg/m3 later this year. 

County-level data on deaths and low birthweight was obtained from the website (1,2). Non-fatal lung cancers, new-onset asthma and stroke rates were based on statewide data from the same website (3, 4, 5). New-onset Alzheimer’s data came from a national study by the Alzheimer’s Association (6). Air pollution data was based on 2016 annual averages compiled by NASA’s Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (7). Calculations estimating which observed health outcomes were attributable to PM2.5 air pollution were made as part of research funded by Public Health Watch and a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism. All data displayed is included in a scientific paper undergoing peer review.

Questions and requests for data with confidence intervals can be sent to

  1. Texas Department of State Health Services. Live Births. Accessed June 30, 2023.
  2. Texas Department of State Health Services. Deaths. Accessed June 30, 2023.
  3. Texas Department of State Health Services. Lung Cancer in Texas. Accessed June 30, 2023.
  4. Texas Department of State Health Services. Texas Stroke System of Care Report. Accessed June 30, 2023.
  5. Texas Department of State Health Services. Asthma. Accessed June 30, 2023.
  6. Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. 2023;19(4). DOI : 10.1002/alz.13016.
  7. Di, Q., Y. Wei, A. Shtein, C. Hultquist, X. Xing, H. Amini, L. Shi, I. Kloog, R. Silvern, J. Kelly, M. B. Sabath, C. Choirat, P. Koutrakis, A. Lyapustin, Y. Wang, L. J. Mickley, and J. Schwartz. Daily and Annual PM2.5 Concentrations for the Contiguous United States, 1-km Grids, v1 (2000 – 2016). NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) 2021). Accessed June 30, 2023.

Data visualization by Luke Bryan. Research by Luke Byran and Dr. Philip Landrigan.

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