Published on June 26th, 2016 |0
Orange smog alert today! Alerts for 2016 so far have doubled last year’s
Temperatures today will again be in the mid- to high-90s and will feel like 100 or more even if they do not reach that.
Smog Alerts for 2016 so far have already doubled last year’s number and are approaching record-setting frequency due to new standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve public health and reduce air pollution, prompt smog alerts at lower pollution levels.
In October 2015, the EPA set a new “breakpoint” for ozone — lowering the health standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. Regular Smog Alerts for Atlanta are being issued by Georgia Commute Options, the Georgia DOT’s program that promotes alternatives to driving alone.
Georgia Commute Options issues Smog Alerts when air pollution reaches Code Orange on the Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI categorizes air quality in green, yellow, orange, red, purple and maroon — with orange marking the level that air becomes unhealthy for sensitive groups like children, the elderly, and people with heart and lung conditions (including asthma).
Since ozone (a harmful pollutant that can cause airway inflammation) is one of several pollutants that can trigger Smog Alerts, lower breakpoints mean more alerts — even when the ozone concentration is the same as in previous years.
Required by the Clean Air Act to re-evaluate pollution health standards every five years, the EPA set the new standard to help continue the downward trend of air pollution seen over the past several years.
According to the American Lung Association’s 2016 State of the Air, Metro Atlanta ranks 52nd for the most ozone-polluted city in the U.S. In 2000, Atlanta was ninth.
However, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America still designates Atlanta as its number 13 U.S. asthma capital, so improvements in the form of more stringent standards are needed to help protect asthma sufferers.
Smog forms when ozone combines with particulate matter in the air. While smog-forming pollutants come from many sources, the biggest and most consistent source is vehicle emissions.
That’s why Georgia Commute Options works to curb emissions by promoting alternatives to driving alone — such as carpooling, vanpooling, riding transit, teleworking, walking or biking to work.