Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (December 22, 2003) – For the first time, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has examined two decades of air quality data to measure the state’s progress toward cleaner air.

Among the findings:

  • Airborne lead is now virtually nonexistent because lead has been eliminated from gasoline.
  • Carbon monoxide levels are now within federal standards because of the use of oxygenated fuels.
  • Course particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide remain well below federal standards.
  • And ozone levels, while still problematic, show encouraging trends. For example, where once Maryland could expect high levels of ozone every time the temperature went above 90 degrees, there is a clear indication in the trend data that hot days no longer automatically bring high-ozone “code red” conditions.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but it is clear that Maryland has made significant progress in cleaning up the air,” said Kendl P. Philbrick, Acting Secretary of the Environment.

“The steady decrease in ozone levels is even more impressive when you consider that Maryland’s population increased by almost 25 percent between 1980 and 1990, which means that pollution sources increased substantially.”

But true success in solving the ozone problem will come only when coal-fired power plants in states west and south of Maryland take steps to reduce emissions. “The transport of ozone into Maryland from other states remains one of the most intractable problems in our effort to clean up the environment,” Philbrick said.

The report is available on the MDE website at: