With the “Ozone Season” starting for 2014, officials want the region to continue its positive trend in air quality. Starting today, Air Quality Awareness week is part of a nationwide effort to increase awareness of the connection between air quality and public health.
Council of Governments (COG) air quality data for the metropolitan Washington region show that air quality is significantly improving for area residents. In 2013, the region only experienced 4 Code Orange air days, despite 18 days with over 90-degree temperatures. There were no Code Red air days in 2013. This is part of an over 15 year downward trend in ozone pollution.
“I am excited that the actions taken across the Washington region have helped clean our air. But, even as air quality continues to improve, there is more to be done. I urge all of us to learn how we can contribute to the quality of our air, as well as protect our own health. You can sign up for AirAlerts to receive daily air quality forecasts and learn more about ways you can limit air pollution,” said Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee (MWAQC) Chairman David Snyder. AirAlerts is a program of Clean Air Partners, a public-private partnership created by COG and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council to encourage the public to take voluntary action to reduce pollution. Sign up for AirAlerts here.
The air quality improvements are the result of federal, state, local and private sector actions, coordinated regionally through COG, such as new regulations to reduce emissions from power plants and passenger vehicles, and programs to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy use. COG has also worked to reduce diesel emissions through programs to revamp dirty diesel engines with cleaner ones through funding from EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. “Initiatives like COG’s diesel motor replacement programs funding Amtrak’s recently refurbished GenSet train switcher and engine upgrades to tour boats on the Potomac River will improve the quality of life for our residents and visitors,” said Chairman Snyder.
“For air quality as well as public safety and transportation, we are, for practical purposes, one region—what positively affects the air quality for any part of our region benefits us all. That is why regional initiatives and coordination are so important,” said Snyder.
The Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee, which is staffed by the Council of Governments, coordinates air quality planning in the National Capital Region. Its members include area elected officials, environmental directors, and state air management and transportation officials.