News Release

Unhealthy Code Orange air quality forecast for metropolitan Washington

Jul 20, 2017

Washington, D.C. (July 20, 2017) – Ozone levels exceeded EPA air quality standards Thursday in metropolitan Washington, bringing the region’s number of unhealthy air days—those at “Code Orange” level or above—to eight so far for 2017.

Friday is also forecast to be a “Code Orange” day, according to data from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and Clean Air Partners.


Source: EPA Air Quality Index

Additional unhealthy air quality days are expected as peak summer heat continues in the area. Residents can check current conditions at During this time, sensitive groups like children and adults with respiratory and heart ailments may experience adverse health effects and should limit time spent outside.

“Although we’ve enjoyed many air quality improvements in metropolitan Washington over the last decade, it is important to remember that there is much more work to be done,” said Hans Riemer, Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee Chairman and Montgomery County Councilmember. “We must remain dedicated to taking actions to achieve good air quality, or Code Green, every day. I am committed to working alongside my colleagues across the region and at every level of government to reach this goal.”

On unhealthy air days, COG advises area residents to take the following actions:

  • Download the free air quality app at or get alerts on Twitter by following @cleanairpartner.
  • Turn off lights and electronics when not in use and follow tips from your electric utility about how to use less electricity and keep your house cool.
  • Avoid lawn mowing or use an electric mower and fill your vehicles' gas tanks after sunset.
  • Avoid unnecessary trips and use public transit.
  • Do not use chemicals on your lawn and garden.

The region recorded just 13 days in 2016 when air quality exceeded healthy levels for ground-level ozone. In addition, air quality never reached more serious "Code Red" unhealthy levels, despite record-breaking stretches of heat. The region has reached this milestone four summers in a row (2013-2016).

COG provides air quality forecasts for metropolitan Washington. It also educates the public about voluntary actions people can take to reduce pollution and the health risks of bad air quality through its Clean Air Partners program, which is co-sponsored by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.

MORE: Air Quality Forecast

Contact: Megan Goodman
Phone: (202) 962-3209
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