As late as the 1980s, air pollution regularly blanketed the metropolitan Washington region on hot and humid summer days. Breathing polluted air can pose health risks by causing irritation to eyes and throats. Pollutants like fine particles and ground level ozone can trigger respiratory problems, especially for people with asthma. Children, older adults, and individuals with respiratory and heart conditions are especially susceptible to high levels of pollution. Air pollution also damages the natural environment such as trees, crops, wildlife, rivers, and other bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay.
The region has made tremendous progress in its air quality thanks to more than a decade of actions at the federal, state, and local government levels, including new regulations to reduce emissions from power plants, passenger vehicles, and heavy duty diesel engines as well as programs to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy use.
COG, through the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee (MWAQC), coordinates regional air quality planning activities, reviews policies, resolves policy differences, and adopts air quality plans for transmittal to the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. MWAQC members include area elected officials, environmental directors, and state air management and transportation officials. COG has also been providing regional air quality forecasts since the 1970s, and its Clean Air Partners program educates people on ways to reduce air pollution and protect their health.
Resolution for Regional Air Quality Action Plan
This resolution outlines development of regional air quality plans for ozone, fine particulate matter and carbon monoxide as well as regulatory and non-regulatory controls and initiatives to improve regional air quality and ensure public health protection.
Gold Book: State and Local Government Initiative to Clean the Air
The Gold Book is a compendium of initiatives from local jurisdictions in the National Capital Region to reduce air pollution across sectors: green building, emissions reductions, alternative commute methods, and more.