Region's Air Quality Continues to Improve

Press Release

 

Maryland Department of the Environment

Media Contacts

Julie Oberg
(410) 537-3010

Richard McIntire
(410) 537-3012

Region's Air Quality Continues to Improve

BALTIMORE, MD (NOVEMBER 2, 2005) Area leaders are pointing out the lack of Code Red days this year as evidence of significant progress in improving air quality in the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region.

The 2005 ozone season (May to mid-September) was the first in the Washington metropolitan region without ozone pollution levels reaching unhealthy Code Red levels as determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and in which the Baltimore region missed the one-hour attainment goal by one monitor hour. (In the Baltimore region, one monitor registered unhealthy for one more hour than allowed, otherwise the Baltimore region would have also made the one-hour attainment standard.)

Kendl Philbrick, secretary of the Maryland Department of Environment and current chairman of the Interstate Air Quality Council, said “the region benefited from both the strong state and local air pollution control programs in place, and reduced levels of pollution being transported into the region from the heavily industrialized Midwest. Pollution coming into the region from the Midwest was noticeably lower this year due to two years of power plant controls being implemented by Midwestern states.”

Fairfax County Supervisor Dana Kaufman, chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee, added, “We are proud of the contribution that local controls have made to the steady decrease in the number of days that ozone levels exceeded national air quality standards over the past 10 years.”

Weather Wasn’t The Reason

This summer was fairly typical of hot summers when ozone levels often reach unhealthy levels, but despite the high temperatures, pollution levels were lower than previous years. “The fact that there were no Code Red days in the Washington metropolitan area, which includes Northern Virginia, this year demonstrates that the programs we have adopted are working,” said Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Director Robert Burnley.

The region’s long list of programs to clean the air includes controls on power plants, cleaner motor vehicle standards and low sulfur gasoline, state programs such as vehicle inspection and maintenance and reformulation of paints, and local measures such as gas can replacement and regional wind power purchases.

“As a region, the states and local governments adopted programs to reduce ozone pollution below the unhealthy level by 2005 and this summer proves that collectively we have reached an important goal. The Washington metropolitan area met the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone in 2005, and the Baltimore region was only one monitor hour away from meeting the standard. This positions the region well as we now focus on working together to meet the newer and more challenging EPA ozone and particulate standards by 2010. We are all proud of our collective progress,” said Kauffman.

A Note of Caution

“Despite the lower pollution levels this year, the region still has challenges ahead,” said Secretary Philbrick. “Just as we were coming into attainment with the one-hour ozone standard, EPA has replaced this standard with a tougher eight-hour health based ozone standard and added a new fine particle standard. Nevertheless, we will work together as a Council to attain the new standards with the same tenacity that we used to bring the area’s air quality to where it is today. Even as we celebrate this summer’s achievement, we are already discussing new programs to reduce ozone and fine particles by the region’s next deadline of 2010.”hilbrick. “Just as we were coming into attainment with the one-hour ozone standard, EPA has replaced this standard with a tougher eight-hour health based ozone standard and added a new fine particle standard. Nevertheless, we will work together as a Council to attain the new standards with the same tenacity that we used to bring the area’s air quality to where it is today. Even as we celebrate this summer’s achievement, we are already discussing new programs to reduce ozone and fine particles by the region’s next deadline of 2010.”

For more information on the 2005 season, visit the following links:



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