Agency Enhances Airwatch System

Press Release

Maryland Department of the Environment
Contact:
Richard McIntire
(410) 537-3012
(410) 716-8784-Pager

Agency Enhances Airwatch System Users can get real time regional air quality information

BALTIMORE, MD (May 10, 2002) -- On May 1 the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) unveiled an enhanced departmental initiative to assist Maryland citizens during this year’s ozone season, which runs from May to September.

MDE, in coordination with Clean Air Partners, has expanded the geographical coverage of its AirWatch real-time air quality map, which is used to inform area residents about the pollution levels throughout the region.

Launched last May on a limited basis, AirWatch is MDE’s air quality website that provides real-time air quality data aimed at developing environmental awareness for the citizens of the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region, specifically about air pollution.

Hourly ozone levels collected from 31 air quality monitors throughout the Baltimore and Washington Metropolitan Areas are displayed in a graphical, interactive map. The map is color coded to represent current readings of air quality monitored within counties and municipalities recording ozone data. Users may click through the map to review data from multiple monitors within a county and review data archived over the previous 24 hours. AirWatch can be viewed on MDE’s website at: www.mde.state.md.us/arma or on the Clean Air Partners website at www.cleanairpartners.net.

In announcing the new initiative, Acting MDE Secretary Merrylin Zaw-Mon also referenced the release of the American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report 2002. She acknowledges that Baltimore, like many metropolitan areas, still has a significant ozone problem, but has made great strides to alleviate the ground-level ozone dilemma.

“MDE’s air quality control programs, including our permitting and enforcement and compliance programs, our Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program, and our participation in voluntary clean air organizations such as Clean Air Partners, have been extremely beneficial in helping to reduce the number and severity of bad air days in the region,” she said. “Governor Glendening has actively pursued ways to help clear the air, including air pollution associated with the transportation sector, but much of our air pollution problem originates in states to the west and south of Maryland. Unfortunately, until the federal government moves aggressively to reduce emissions in upwind states, programs like AirWatch will be needed to help Marylanders avoid polluted air.”

AirWatch’s real-time map allows the public to monitor air quality conditions near their community and adjust their daily activities accordingly. With this information, and a quick, online check of air quality conditions, people can work, exercise and play outdoors during Ozone Action Days so long as they limit their exposure during peak hours. Through active involvement in investigating their local air quality, people develop an understanding of air quality issues, and are encouraged to become actively involved in finding solutions to air pollution.

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