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
South Carolina has had two forecasted Code Orange Ozone Action Days since Ground-level Ozone forecasting season began on April 1st of this year. A Code Orange Ozone Action Day means that atmospheric conditions will likely produce concentrations of ground level ozone air pollution that may be unhealthy for sensitive groups, which includes people with lung disease, older adults, and children.
Ozone typically forms with highest concentrations on warm, hot, sunny days with light wind speeds, which allows more of the pollutant to form and accumulate. Forecasting ground-level ozone concentrations is an educated prediction based on certain weather conditions and emissions. DHEC has a team of experienced meteorologists on staff that review weather and air quality information daily to produce a next-day ozone forecast, which is posted on DHEC’s own ozone website and U.S. EPA’s AIRNow website.
Knowing the Ground-level Ozone Forecast ahead of time allows you to make plans and adjust your schedule and activities for the next day. Sensitive groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion, take more breaks, and do less intense activities, especially during afternoon and early evening hours when ozone concentrations are typically highest.
Knowing the Ground-level Ozone Forecastahead of time also allows you to make informed decisions that can help reduce air pollution and decrease ground-level ozone by:
- Refueling your car after 6:00 PM and don’t top off your tank
- Using electric powered lawn equipment
- Avoiding driving during peak traffic hours
- Combining trips when you drive
- Telecommuting (work from home) if possible
- Taking your lunch to work
Sign up to receive forecasts via emails, texts or tweets (customized to fit your style) using EPA’s free EnviroFlash service at www.enviroflash.info.
For additional information about ozone and air quality, click here.
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!
Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.
COLUMBIA, SC – Ozone season begins April 1, marking the start of daily forecasts for ground-level ozone from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
High concentrations of ozone can create breathing problems, especially for children, people with asthma or other respiratory problems, and adults who work or exercise outdoors. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ozone can also cause tree and crop damage.
According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Weekly Report issued yesterday, opioid overdose deaths continued to rise in the U.S. from 2015 to 2016, despite greater public awareness, enhanced provider awareness of prescribing behavior, as well as added measures put in place throughout communities for treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD).
(CNN)You may want to take a little extra time washing your hands if you’re visiting relatives this Passover and Easter weekend. Doctors are still seeing a number of patients with flu, but the numbers are declining amid an intense flu season.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed four more flu-associated pediatric deaths in the 12th week of the season, bringing the total to 137 since October. Puerto Rico and 16 states were still seeing widespread flu cases during the week ending March 24, the CDC said Friday in its weekly surveillance report.