Air Quality Awareness Week (AQAW) 2022 has been designated as May 2 – May 6. AQAW corresponds with ozone season, wildfire season, and World Asthma Day. The theme for AQAW 2022 is “Be Air Aware & Prepared.”Continue reading
Spring is here and that means the return of the ozone forecasting season, which for South Carolina is April 1st through September 30.
As it heats up in the Palmetto state and we drive our vehicles, the exhaust mixes with other pollutants and contributes to ground-level ozone in our atmosphere. Under certain conditions, ozone levels can be high enough that an “Ozone Action Day,” or “orange day” alert, is issued. High levels can adversely impact people who are sensitive to ozone pollution, especially children, the elderly, and those with breathing problems.Continue reading
DHEC’s Office of Environmental Affairs will host the 13th Annual Environmental Assistance Conference on Tuesday, November 19, from 9 AM to 4 PM at the Cooperative Conference Center (169 Laurelhurst Ave, Columbia, SC). This year’s theme is Compliance Assistance and Customer Service: DHEC and Industry Working Together. The agenda will include regulatory compliance and permitting topics, such as hazardous waste, dams, stormwater, air quality, solid waste and legislative updates.
Additionally, the conference will feature up to 30 local businesses and organizations in our exhibitor showcase. DHEC staff will also be available to answer any technical or permitting questions.
“DHEC’s annual Environmental Assistance Conference unites environmental regulators with DHEC staff and offers an exciting opportunity for continued learning and instruction on important topics relevant to our community and partners,” said Myra Reece, DHEC’s director of Environmental Affairs. “DHEC strives to meet our agency values of pursing excellence, innovation, service and teamwork. This conference is just one example of how DHEC’s dedicated Environmental Affairs team exemplifies our agency’s values by creating a learning and networking environment between the regulated community and our staff year after year.”
Deadline to register is Sunday, November 10. Registration for both attendees and exhibitors is on a first come, first serve basis. Space is available for up to 30 exhibitors and approximately 250 attendees. The attendee fee is $45 per person. The exhibitor fee is $300 per table and includes registration for two attendees. All registrations include access to the exhibitor room, all presentations, a light breakfast and lunch.
For conference updates and to register for the conference, please visit our website at www.scdhec.gov/environment/eac. Questions about the conference or registration can be directed to Rebecca Sproles at email@example.com or 803-898-3139. You don’t want to miss this event!
As the population and the number of businesses grow, so does the volume of vehicles on the road in a single day. This can be challenging for keeping the air in South Carolina clean and safe.
The good news is South Carolina does have clean air and is currently attaining all of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. These standards were established to protect public health. Maintaining favorable air quality by keeping emissions at a minimum will help keep South Carolina within the air quality standards and protect public health.
Your business can be a leader in your community by implementing air pollution reduction strategies to maintain good air quality in South Carolina:
- Register to be a Breathe Better (B2) business. You will receive anti-idling signs that can go in your loading areas and parking lots.
- Sign up for the EPA Air Quality Flag Program and display the corresponding air quality desktop sign in your place of business.
- Create and support a telecommuting policy for your employees so they can work from home one or more days a week to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
- Create and support an alternative work schedule. A flexible work schedule allows your employees to stagger their work schedule to avoid driving in peak rush hour traffic.
- Encourage carpooling and vanpooling. Sharing your daily commute can reduce the number of vehicles on the road and save on gas.
- Install a bike rack at your business and encourage employees to ride a bike or walk to work whenever possible. It’s good for the environment and your health.
- Consider replacing and/or purchasing fleet vehicles with hybrid vehicles or electric vehicles.
- Look for opportunities to reduce diesel emissions through reduction strategies and technologies. South Carolina Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Grants are available for eligible applicants to help fund these types of projects.
By: Renee Madden, Bureau of Air Quality
Last summer, I received a call from my daughter who was concerned because she had heard that the Air Quality Index (also known as the AQI) expected a Yellow flag day. Since I work with air quality data, she wanted to know if it was safe to take my 3-year-old granddaughter outside to play or was it dangerous?
I understand her concern. We live in a State that enjoys clean air. In fact, as the graph below shows, the average ozone design value has fallen over the last 18 years and has been below the National Ambient Air Quality Standard since 2010.
So, what’s the deal with all of the colors? As you all know, the AQI is a color-coded air quality guide that lets people know how healthy the air is expected to be – kind of like an air quality shortcut. Each color is associated with a certain level of ozone in the air that lets people know the level of pollution. The Green flag and the Yellow flag are the first two colors that occur in the AQI when the ozone is below the Standard and the air is healthy for normal activities. The Green flag means it’s a Great day and the Yellow flag means it’s a Good day. I know-the color Yellow usually means caution. But, the Yellow flag in air quality means that the air is acceptable except for a small number of people that are unusually sensitive to air pollutants and may need to take some precautions. For those people, it is important to know if there are any pollutants in the air. But, for most of the general population, the Yellow flag means it is safe to go outside and play. So, don’t be scared away by seeing the Yellow flag. This is one time that “Yellow” means, “Go, play and have fun!”
Another statement that I often hear is there seems to be more Yellow flag days now than before-and that’s right! But how can that be if the air quality is better than it was 10 years ago? Good question! The answer is-(drum-roll please)-when the air standards were lowered in 2015, they also change the AQI numbers. To be a Green day in 2008, the ozone level could be up to 0.059 parts per million (ppm). Now, it can only be up to 0.054 ppm. Also, in 2008, the Yellow flag started when the ozone level was 0.060 ppm and went up to 0.075 ppm. Now the Yellow flag starts when the ozone level is 0.055 ppm and goes up to 0.070 ppm (see Table and Graphs below).
|AQI Category||AQI Index||2008 ppm||2015 ppm|
|Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups||101-150||0.076-0.095||0.071-0.085|
So, before 2015, we DID have more Green flag days.
Now, we see more Yellow flag days. But remember, Yellow flag days are good days to be outside, too!