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Frequently Asked Questions  


  1. Why doesn't my apartment complex have recycling collection?
  2. How can I recycle at my apartment?
  3. Where are the City of Houston drop-off centers for recycling?
  4. How should I dispose of old paint/batteries/antifreeze?
  5. Where can I find information on backyard composting?
  6. How do I find out about issues with abandoned property?
  7. How do I report a nuisance issue?
  8. Where can I go to hike, bike, and/or bird watch in Houston?
  9. What is the City of Houston doing to be environmentally aware?
  10. Do you have questions about public transportation?
  11. What should I do if I see or smell gasoline coming from a gasoline nozzle / pump at a gas station/convenience store?
  12. What should I do if I suspect the release of Freon into the air from a vehicle or building air conditioner?
  13. What should I do if I observe demolition/construction activities that I suspect emit lead paint or asbestos into the air?
  14. Who addresses general air pollution concerns like haze?
  15. The car I recently purchased has had its emissions control system tampered with and cannot pass an emissions test. What can I do?
  16. How does the Bureau of Pollution Control and Prevention (BPCP) know where "air polluters" are located?
  17. Are companies that emit air pollutants required to register or get a permit?
  18. 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?
  19. 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?
  20. How can I tell if there are high levels of air pollutants in Houston "today"?
  21. What should I do to protect my family and myself if there is an air pollution problem (like high ozone levels) in Houston?
  22. What should I do if I see a smoking vehicle in Houston?
  23. What should I do if I observe a significant air pollution release or if I think a company is violating air pollution regulations?
  24. What can I do to improve the air quality in Houston?
  25. Should I be concerned with the mercury in my Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs), and how should I correctly dispose of them?

1. Why doesn't my apartment complex have recycling collection?
Per City of Houston ordinance the Solid Waste Management Department provides service only to single-family homes, eight units or less. This excludes larger multi-family units from City service; therefore a private service contract for solid waste services is needed. See City of Houston Code of Ordinances Chapter 39.

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2. How can I recycle at my apartment?
There are several options for recycling at an apartment complex:

  • Recyclables may be collected and taken to one of seven City of Houston drop-off locations. Residents can speak with their building management about acquiring a recycling service contract/opportunity in addition to the refuse collection service.
  • You can contact Habitat for Humanity, who has offered to pick up recycling in area apartments; they will provide you with details for your specific area.

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3. Where are the City of Houston drop-off centers for recycling?
Drop-off locations for recyclables may be found at the City of Houston's recycling website.

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4. How should I dispose of old paint/batteries/antifreeze?
Old paint, dry cell household batteries, wet cell car batteries, old cleaning supplies, used motor oil, used cooking oil and antifreeze are all examples of HHW (Household Hazardous Waste). Residents of the City are welcome to take these items to the Environmental Service Center (ESC) South for proper end use. The ESC will not accept materials from commercial generators. More information on HHW is found at www.houstontx.gov/solidwaste/hhw.html.

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5. Where can I find information on backyard composting?
Click on the www.earth911.org website.

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6. How do I find out about issues with abandoned property?
Chapters 10 Section 451 of the Code of Ordinances outlines a variety of issues such as mosquitoes and overgrown weeds considered nuisances to public safety or health. The Houston Police Department (HPD) Neighborhood Protection Corps ensures compliance with this ordinance.

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7. How do I report a nuisance issue?
Call 311 to report nuisance issues for investigation by the Neighborhood Protection Corps.

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8. Where can I go to hike, bike, and/or bird watch in Houston?
Houston is a city with many outdoor opportunities. The Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) lists information about the opportunities offered by Houston's parks system.

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9. What is the City of Houston doing to be environmentally aware?
City of Houston departments are doing their part to be energy efficient and resource conscious. Please use the " What We Do. " link in the left side bar to read more about the City's achievements.

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10. Do you have questions about public transportation?
See the METRO website at: www.ridemetro.org.

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11. What should I do if I see or smell gasoline coming from a gasoline nozzle / pump at a gas station/convenience store?
Complaints about leaking gasoline nozzles/pumps should be made to 311. They will take the complaint and refer it to the proper agency.

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12. What should I do if I suspect the release of Freon into the air from a vehicle or building air conditioner?
Complaints about leaking Freon should be made to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 281.983.2153 or 1.800.296.1996.

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13. What should I do if I observe demolition/construction activities that I suspect emit lead paint or asbestos into the air?
Complaints about asbestos from demolition/construction activities should be made to the Texas Department of State Health Services at 713.767.3000. Complaints about asbestos from demolition/construction can also be made to the EPA at 281.983.2149. Complaints about airborne lead paint should be made to the 311 for referral to the proper City agency.

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14. Who addresses general air pollution concerns like haze?
General air pollution complaints can be made to 311. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Region 12 Office also handles general air pollution complaints at 713.767.3700. General air pollution complaints can also be made to the Harris County Pollution Control Division at 713.920.2831.

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15. The car I recently purchased has had its emissions control system tampered with and cannot pass an emissions test. What can I do?
Complaints about tampering with a vehicle's emissions control system should be reported to 311.

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16. How does the Bureau of Pollution Control and Prevention (BPCP) know where "air polluters" are located?
The BPCP utilizes its computer database, complaints, monitoring and surveillance information to track the location of companies that emit air pollution.

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17. 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 contact the Bureau of Pollution Control and Prevention (BPCP) through 311.

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18. 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?
Complaints about air pollution from companies or individuals that affect Houston residents should be made to 311.

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19. 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?
Complaints about nuisance smoke, odors, or dust should be made to 311.

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20. How can I tell if there are high levels of air pollutants in Houston "today"?
You can call the Bureau of Pollution Control and Prevention (BPCP) Morning Air Pollution Forecast recording at 832.393.5612. The recording is updated each weekday morning by BPCP personnel, and is based on daily forecasts by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which are available at TCEQ’s Today’s Ozone Forecast and TCEQ’s Today’s Texas Air Quality Forecast. The recording describes the air pollution level for the day as low, moderate, or elevated. In addition, you can sign up here to receive ozone email alerts, including ozone forecasts and warnings from the TCEQ. You can also sign up here to receive air quality forecasts and ozone watches emails from AIRNow.

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21. What should I do to protect my family and myself if there is an air pollution problem (like high ozone levels) in Houston?
On high air pollution days, 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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22. What should I do if I see a smoking vehicle in Houston?
Call the TCEQ smoking vehicle phone number at 1.800.453.7664.

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23. What should I do if I observe a significant air pollution release or if I think a company is violating air pollution regulations?
Complaints about significant air pollution releases or violations of air quality regulations should be made to 311.

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24. What can I do to improve the air quality in Houston?
As a consumer you can shop for products that create less air pollution like fuel-efficient automobiles, energy-saving household appliances, and low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints. You can change your daily actions to reduce air pollution by refueling your automobile and mowing your lawn when air pollution levels are low. You can contact local, state, and federal elected officials and tell them you support air pollution control laws.

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25. Should I be concerned with the mercury in my Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs), and how should I correctly dispose of them?
Go to : www.p2pays.org/mercury/house.asp

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