Posts tagged with smog
As Air Quality Awareness Week 2013 comes to a close, The Clean Air Campaign explores current events surrounding the air we breathe from the perspective of the American Lung Association, an ally with a presence in Georgia that publishes an annual report on air quality. In case you missed it, both organizations participated in a webinar about air quality, which you can replay here.
Thanks to the Clean Air Act, the United States continues to make progress providing healthier air. The State of the Air 2013 shows that the nation’s air quality is over¬all much cleaner, especially compared to just a decade ago. Still, over 131.8 million people—42 percent of the nation— live where pollution levels are too often dangerous to breathe. Despite that risk, some seek to weaken the Clean Air Act, the public health law that has driven the cuts in pollution since 1970.
The State of the Air 2013 report looks at levels of ozone and particle pollution found in official monitoring sites across the United States in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The report uses the most current quality-assured nationwide data available for these analyses.
Thanks to stronger standards for pollutants and for the sources of pollution, the United States has seen continued reduction in ozone and particle pollution as well as other pollutants for decades. Since 1970, the air has gotten cleaner while the population, the economy, energy use and miles driven increased greatly.
Georgia has several cities/counties with unhealthy levels of pollution. Key “State of the Air 2013” findings for Georgia include:
- The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Gainesville area dropped out of the Top 25 Most Polluted Cities for ozone, ranking 28th in the nation.
- The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta area also saw slightly higher year-round levels of particle pollution and tied for 18th for most polluted in the nation (worse than last year’s ranking of 24th).
- Brunswick and Savannah-Hinesville-Fort Stewart were recognized as having no unhealthy days of ozone pollution.
- Macon-Warner Robbins-Fort Valley tied for 14th for most polluted city in the nation for annual particle pollution.
- Seven of the reporting counties received an “A” for short-term particle pollution, meaning no days of unhealthy levels of particle pollution.
The Clean Air Act calls for a review of research every five years to ensure that our standards for breathable air are safe. Sulfur levels in gasoline and cleaner vehicles are currently under review by the Environmental Protection Administration. Since half of metro Atlanta’s air pollution comes from vehicle emissions, cleaner gas and cleaner cars could make a big difference in the air we breathe.
The American Lung Association urges everyone to join the fight for clean air and to learn how to protect themselves and their families from air pollution by visiting www.stateoftheair.org.
June Deen is state director for the American Lung Association in Georgia, which is now in its second century as the leading organization in the state that is "Fighting for Air" and working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. June has played an instrumental role in advocacy work for many years in the state, giving Georgians a voice in the conversation about smoking issues, asthma, air pollution and public health.
The views and opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The Clean Air Campaign.
I’ve been a part of The Clean Air Campaign for eight years this August (and yes, time DOES fly when you’re having fun!). Over my years here, I’ve assisted with employer services and events, and am currently an Employer Program Manager for the State of Georgia agencies and the I-75 South region.
During any given day, I could be giving a presentation to multiple organizations on the importance of clean commuting to work as a means of reducing traffic and improving air quality. I could be counting commuters in a parking lot near you or rewarding a commuter for keeping 50,000 pounds of pollution out of the air. Like my co-workers, I spend my days trying to encourage Georgians to see the benefits of ridesharing and teleworking, joining a vanpool or walking to and from work in effort to make a difference.
Then, after the day is done, I go home. Like a lot of us, I take off my work hat, and put on my parent one. Little did I know that my work at The Clean Air Campaign would ever overlap so greatly in both my work and parenting roles. You see, my daughter relies heavily on me--because she is affected greatly by smog, and she relies on programs like ours to improve air quality. My daughter is one of many children that is treated for Reactive Airway Disease, or RAD. Smog hits her harder, and makes me work harder.
Let me preface this by saying a) I’m not a doctor or medical professional (nor claim to be), and b) there is very little of the medical terminology that I understand. But, I do know this:
We see a fabulous Pediatric Pulmonologist almost once a month and use inhalers and nebulizers twice daily. My daughter is susceptible to wheezing and coughing fits that often escalate with exposure to certain elements, including smog. In “Clean Air” terms, we pay extra close attention to smog and Smog Alerts daily. Luckily we haven’t experienced a Code Purple day since I’ve been with The Clean Air Campaign, but, we have had some Code Red days and many Code Orange days, and we don’t like those either.
So, as an employee of The Clean Air Campaign, I encourage you to research your clean commute options, and know what is happening to the air we all breathe on our daily commutes, such as every mile we’re not driving alone helps prevent one pound of pollution and carbon dioxide from going into the air. As a parent, I ask you what you are going to do to keep the air clean for our kids to breathe, play and grow.
Earth Day is coming up on April 22 and Air Quality Awareness Week in Georgia takes place April 29-May 3, 2013. To celebrate, why not clean commute for the first time? Every little bit helps little lungs (and big ones) breathe easier. And, if you have questions or need help finding the perfect clean commute, I may know some people.
Lettie Hernandez Ongie is an Employer Program Manager with The Clean Air Campaign. For the past six years, she has assisted the State of Georgia’s various agencies with implementing clean commute options and programs, her personal favorites being Telework & Compressed Work Weeks. An avid teleworker, Lettie enjoys using her extra hour saved on telework days to spend time with family and blog.
Curious about congestion? Seeking enlightenment on environmental issues? When inquiring minds want to know about the latest happenings influencing Georgia’s transportation and air quality, they turn to Merging Lanes.
Where can you find the 7th-worst traffic in the US?
Right here in metro Atlanta, according to the latest edition of an annual study led by the Texas Transportation Institute. That’s one spot worse than last year’s #8 ranking. So, what are the key takeaways from the latest report? Overall, not a whole lot has changed dramatically from last year to this year in the data. Delay from traffic – above and beyond normal commute travel times – takes away from each commuter in the region an average of 51 hours over the course of a year (up an hour over last year’s data). That’s more than an entire weekend out of your year that goes up in smoke. The average cost of delay to each peak-period commuter nets out to $1,120 annually, up slightly from the prior year ($1,106). The pessimists out there may be inclined to lash out in frustration over the loss of time and money. But if you’re an optimist, look at it as time and money that could be restored to your life by making greater use of commute options.
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How did they do that?
From Gizmodo.com, this story about a complicated and awe-inspiring dig using giant-sized drilling machinery to create a 5.6-mile network of additional rail capacity under NYC. Frankly, it makes Andy Dufresne’s tunnel from “The Shawshank Redemption” look rather pedestrian.
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Where’s the riskiest place to live when you’re recovering from a heart attack?
A recent medical study reinforces the link between fine particle pollution and heart health, finding that heart attacks are deadlier in areas where soot is more prevalent, making it all the more difficult to live a healthy life after experiencing a heart attack. Conducted in Britain, the study followed more than 150,000 people who had received medical treatment/intervention for heart failure. Examining air quality data where these people lived and tying that information to demographic characteristics for zip codes showed those living in lower-income and less educated zip codes had higher mortality rates. This falls in line with other studies that note poorer physical health in poverty-stricken areas. For a crash course on meaningful ways you can help protect the air we breathe, click here.
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What tricks could Georgia learn from Utah in dealing with persistent smog challenges?
Admittedly, the topography and climate are very different between here and there. But a few time zones away, regions in Utah have already experienced three weeks of Code Orange and Code Red smog conditions so far this year, brought on by stagnant weather patterns and fossil fuel burning. This New York Times article outlines the challenges facing Utah residents and policymakers, but check out the very end of the article describing the possibility of the legislature creating free public access to transit and instructing state agencies to take steps to mitigate air pollution when smog is at its predictable worst. Could these policy-driven approaches work here in the Peach State?
Brian Carr is Director of Communications at The Clean Air Campaign, one of several organizations in the Atlanta region that deliver Georgia Commute Options programs and services in partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation. A daily MARTA rail rider, Brian uses his morning commute time on the Blue Line to read about current events and play "Words With Friends."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that metro Atlanta has reached an important milestone for air quality. The region has achieved compliance with federal standards set in 1997 that determined a threshold for unhealthy air pollution, coming in under the maximum allowable concentrations for ground-level ozone. This accomplishment, years in the making, resulted from an effective blend of regulatory controls developed by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and voluntary programs such as Georgia Commute Options and The Clean Air Campaign’s Clean Air Schools initiatives.
But the celebration may not last long. That’s because the measuring stick for air quality has been made shorter in recent years. Presently, there are 15 counties in metro Atlanta that do not meet the newer, more stringent set of federal standards for ground-level ozone, introduced in 2008. So how do we clear the next hurdle? The near-term strategy our organization is working on involves reducing the smog-forming emissions that come from vehicle tailpipes. The Clean Air Campaign, working in partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation and Atlanta’s transportation management associations to deliver Georgia Commute Options programs, offers solutions that help commuters use alternatives to driving alone.
More than 1,600 employers and 85,000 commuters have participated in Georgia Commute Options programs over the past decade. And more than 350 schools have taken part in Clean Air Schools programs designed to improve air quality around school communities. And while there’s no doubt the region is making progress for cleaner air, much work still remains to be done. There’s room at the table for more workplaces, commuters and schools to get involved now.
Tedra Cheatham joined The Clean Air Campaign as Executive Director in 2011, leading statewide efforts for cleaner air and less traffic. Previously, Tedra worked to advance economic growth and quality of life initiatives as Chief Operating Officer for the Greater North Fulton Chamber.
The recent severe weather outbreak across North Georgia is a prime example of why I became a meteorologist. It all started as a teenager growing up in South Texas. I remember being fascinated with all severe weather elements: lightning, thunder, tornadoes, hail. The weather drew me in and I wanted to know more. This is why I made severe weather my passion.
After surveying the recent Adairsville tornado, emotions were running high. The other reason I became a meteorologist became valid. I wanted to save lives. To see all the mangled trees, houses and overturned cars choked me up. To track the storm in the studio is one thing, but to see the actual devastation literally took the breath out of me. At the end of the day I found comfort knowing that I quite possibly saved lives. That's the best feeling in the world.
Outside of severe weather I still have to keep people safe from all elements. Here in Atlanta, air quality can get bad in the summer months and become unhealthy. This is where The Clean Air Campaign comes in. They are a great group to work with. They prepare air quality alerts for the area when smog and ozone are at high levels. In turn, I pass that information on to you so you can take precautionary measures to protect yourself. I enjoy working with them on stories that can help cut down on pollution for our area. If we can improve our air quality, everyone will enjoy a better quality of life.
In honor of National Weatherperson's Day, I invite you to think of your local meteorologist in a different way. We're more than just a person talking about how gorgeous your weekend is going to be. We're here to protect you.
Cris Martinez joined CBS Atlanta News as the Severe Weather Meteorologist in August 2009. He can be seen anchoring the weather on weeknights. Cris worked in both Texas and Florida before his move to Georgia.
Heading into the Independence Day holiday week, several regions in Georgia have been dealing with sizzling temperatures that have triggered Smog Alerts to warn of unhealthy outdoor air quality. Here's a quick review of what has been going on the past few days and what we might expect for the week ahead:
The capital region logged its first Code Purple day in many years on Friday, June 29, indicating air quality was very unhealthy for all. There were also Code Orange days (unhealthy for sensitive groups) on Saturday, June 30 and on the first day of July. More unhealthy conditions are predicted for July 2. While the region has experienced many shades of unhealthy air in the past few days, the belief is that the Code Purple and Code Red conditions last Thursday and Friday were more exception than rule. Nonetheless, it's important to reach a little deeper into the suggested actions to help reduce air pollution. In addition to using commute options, look for ways to curb unnecessary idling, defer on yardwork projects involving gas-powered tools, combine errands and stay informed about air quality conditions.
Other Areas in Georgia
The Augusta area logged a couple of Code Orange days over the weekend. Macon and Athens also each encountered Code Orange conditions. With regard to weather patterns, many cities around Georgia approached all-time record-high temperatures in recent days. While we all continue to wait for a change in weather conditions, it's important to stay hydrated, stay informed about air quality and stay mindful of the actionable ways you can help reduce air pollution.
Bringing an inauspicious start to the weekend, unhealthy concentrations of ground-level ozone are predicted in a few regions across Georgia today, which could create breathing challenges for people. Smog Alerts were distributed for Atlanta, Augusta and Macon.
The Friday forecast issued by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for the Atlanta region indicates air quality may reach into Code Red, an indication that ozone levels could be unhealthy for everyone. If it comes to pass, this would mark the first Code Red day experienced in Atlanta in two years. The combination of sweltering heat plus tailpipe emissions and stagnant air may have an impact on a wider cross-section of the population, triggering the advisory to limit outdoor physical activity.
Atlanta may not be the only region battling unhealthy conditions, as Augusta and Macon are also each under a Code Orange advisory for today, indicating conditions are expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups that include children, the elderly and those with acute respiratory illnesses. Suggestions for these groups also include limiting prolonged exertion outside.
Find helpful tips here on things you can do now to reduce air pollution. If you're planning to be outdoors, keep watch over family and friends to make sure they don't overexert themselves, and build in lots of water breaks. Stay cool and stay informed about forecasts for the next few days while we all try to find relief from this heat wave.
Hope you had a terrific Earth Week! The celebration of environmental conservation, protection and sustainability couldn’t possibly fit into just one solitary day anymore. And the parade of innovative ways to green the globe has truly gone …well, global. In fact, when it comes to improving the quality of the air we all breathe, clever ideas are springing up all over the world. So, to celebrate Earth Week, The Clean Air Campaign scoured the Earth to bring you these success stories from afar:
London: Pollution Glue Traps Fine Particles
With particle pollution emissions creating health challenges, London has found itself in a sticky situation as the city prepares to host the Olympic Games in a few short months. But engineers have developed a winning solution you won’t believe: applying a special “pollution glue” to road surfaces has helped trap fine particles, preventing them from going airborne. Studies indicate repeated applications on select thoroughfares have reduced particle pollution by 10% over a 24-hour period.
Manila: Smog-Eating Paint Artfully Covers City Walls
Smog in the city of Manila doesn’t stand a chance, thanks to a new idea that could forever alter the meaning of the phrase, “paint the town.” Artists are painting giant murals on the sides of buildings using a special smog-eating blend of catalytic paint that filters out nitrogen oxides. The manufacturer claims that coating 11 square feet of a surface with this special paint filters the same amount of air pollution as one full-grown tree.
Spain: Building Transit Ridership through e-Book Offers
QR codes are springing up everywhere. And in one district in Spain, a transit operator has found a creative way to tackle pollution and literacy at the same time. Train riders in Catalonia can scan QR codes on wall posters hung inside the cars to download the first chapter of select novels onto their mobile devices for some fun diversion on the commute. Truly a progressive idea. Imagine having this opportunity on a GRTA Xpress bus or a MARTA line.
When it comes to doing the right things for the planet, we’re all in it together. That makes Earth Week a terrific occasion to think and act green no matter where you are. Tell The Clean Air Campaign about other unique ideas you’ve found out there to help improve the air we all breathe. And be sure to mark your calendars next week for Air Quality Awareness Week in Georgia, taking place April 30-May 4.
On this Valentine's Day, and every day, our hearts beat true for less traffic and cleaner air. So, pucker up and embrace the clean commuting love in this latest edition of Merging Lanes.
Romantic Routes: Georgia Ranks High on Roads with Amorous Names
Who knew? Just in time for Valentine’s Day, an entertaining report from a maker of GPS devices reveals that some of the most “romantic” roads in the U.S. are found right here in the Peach State. Georgia boasts 70 miles of roads with amorous names that include phrases like “Darling” or “Rose” or “Heart” in them. Perhaps just the inspiration you need to fall in love with a commute alternative, like this cute couple.
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Thinking Big for Cleaner Air: Article Suggests Smog Solutions
Great article from National Geographic that describes the causes of air pollution and offers a handful of “big picture” ideas to tackle the problem. While the intro concentrates on the state of the air in Los Angeles, there are many parallels to the challenges we’re facing in Georgia, from population growth to increasing pressure on the existing transportation network. Among the many spot-on suggestions? Increasing public awareness when air quality is unhealthy. The Clean Air Campaign has you covered with Smog Alerts. More than 12,000 Georgians are signed up to receive them. Are you?
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Purchasing Power of a Penny: ATL Transportation Referendum Projections Spell Out Potential Benefits
The Atlanta Regional Commission recently released a raft of projections about the economic and quality of life benefits that the 150+ projects on the docket for Atlanta could yield. Among the notable forecasts: the total $8 billion list could yield a 4:1 return on investment, and the environmental benefits derived from less vehicle idling in traffic could yield air quality improvements roughly equal to 72,000 fewer tailpipes on the road. Still puzzling through the data, but it's clear this information will shape the way in which this referendum is presented to voters.
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New Twist on Traffic Fate: Psychic Predicts Your Commute
Stalled out vehicle on the Downtown Connector. Heavy volume at I-575. Sunshine slowdown on I-20. Sometimes, our collective rush hour commuting fate can feel like a roll of the dice. And more commuters are embracing tools like 511 and Georgia NaviGAtor to help dodge traffic. But ABC news recently reported on a more … um, celestial … method some folks are using to predict the outcome of their commute. With tarot cards at the ready, could the traffic psychic have answers about your next trip?
National Weatherperson's Day, also known as National Weatherman's Day, is a holiday observed on February 5 primarily in the United States. It recognizes individuals in the fields of meteorology, weather forecasting and broadcast meteorology - including the folks who watch over the quality of the air we breathe - as well as volunteer storm spotters and observers. National Weatherperson's Day is observed on the birthday of John Jeffries, one of the United States' first weather observers who took daily measurements from 1774 to 1816.
At the age of four, I made the decision to become a meteorologist and I have not looked back since. Growing up and seeing our local meteorologist cover severe weather on television was something that just fascinated me. Still does. Not only did I enjoy hearing about weather changes and formations, I also enjoyed seeing how meteorologists prepared people for harsh weather. Now that I am a meteorologist, I take great pride in being able to do the same.
Although I have looked up to many meteorologists over the years, I would say that my biggest role model was James Spann, the chief meteorologist at the ABC affiliate (ABC 33/40) in Birmingham. He always seemed to pave the way for new technology in the industry. Plus, he was a unique storyteller and passionate about his job. Witnessing his balance between community involvement, school visits and severe weather coverage provided me with a great model for my own career.
Being a meteorologist provides me quite a few perks, however the biggest perk is being able to go to work each day and not feel like I’m at work. I’m doing something that I enjoy and have been passionate about for years. Over the course of my seven year career, I would say that my most memorable experience was my first day on air when I was a senior in college working at the ABC affiliate (WTOK) in Meridian, Mississippi. Hurricane Ivan made landfall, and our weather team was involved in continuous coverage of the storm for over 12 hours. It was quite a way to break into the business!
Since that time, I’ve seen firsthand the devastation that severe weather events can place on communities. Unfortunately, we can only do so much on TV when we cover these situations, so we encourage individuals to take it upon themselves to stay informed, and we strive to ensure that the public is weather-aware.
Our weather team informs our audience on air quality issues by displaying the air quality index when we foresee bad air days. This allows residents to take action to improve the air and protect themselves. In Columbus, we deal with air quality issues occasionally, especially during the summer months. It’s important for us to let people know about air quality concerns outside of our area since many of our residents travel to cities like Birmingham and Atlanta, which often see worse conditions than we do.
Aside from weather-related events, it’s nice to be able promote positive things like school contests, such as The Clean Air Campaign’s Young Lungs at Work Art Competition, which helps educate kids about pollution and how it affects the air we breathe. By spreading the word in our local community, we can help people understand the importance of turning off engines to idling cars and school buses in pick-up lanes at school.
I'm happy to say that for the first time in awhile I won’t be at work on Weatherperson’s Day this Sunday, so I’ll likely celebrate it by enjoying a day off and watching the Super Bowl. Happy Weatherperson’s Day to all my peers!
Derek Kinkade is the chief meteorologist for 9 ABC/WTVM in Columbus.