BALTIMORE, MD (August 28, 2006) – To enhance Maryland’s nationally-recognized air pollution outreach proggram, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has added an additional ground level ozone air monitoring station within Baltimore City. The new ozone monitoring station is located at the Furley Recreation Center in the northeast part of the City. The Baltimore City Health Department worked closely with MDE and was instrumental in finding a secure location for the new ozone monitor, as previous ozone monitoring sites within the City had been repeatedly vandalized.
“The new ozone monitoring station will compliment the existing fine particle and air toxics monitoring sites in downtown Baltimore City and most importantly, provide the public with more information about the air they breathe,” said Tad Aburn, director of MDE’s Air and Radiation Management Administration. Because of the complicated chemistry involved in forming ground level ozone, ozone levels in Baltimore City have historically been lower than levels recorded in downwind areas like Harford and Cecil counties.
The downtown air monitoring network, made up of six sites, now measures ozone, fine particles, air toxics, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. Within the network of air monitoring stations maintained by the State, there are 17 ozone monitoring instruments and 18 fine particle instruments and equipment that measures meteorological parameters and other air pollutants. Maryland has implemented one of the most comprehensive ambient air monitoring networks on the east coast.
Ground-level ozone and fine particles are Maryland’s most pervasive air pollutants though continued efforts on the part of the State in combination with regional efforts and Federal programs have shown significant improvements to the air quality within Maryland over the past four years.
MDE forecasts daily ozone and particle levels and issues e-mails to the public, businesses, and the media via AirWatch. AirWatch is a “real time” air quality data notification system that can be visited online at http://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Air/AirQualityMonitoring/Pages/index.aspx or by calling (410) 537-3247. Hourly air pollution levels are collected from a comprehensive network of monitors throughout the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas and are displayed in an interactive map on AirWatch. The AirWatch program is a regional initiative aimed at developing environmental awareness for the citizens of the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region about air pollution. More than 500 businesses and individuals currently receive air quality forecasts and in turn forward this information to thousands more throughout the region.
“Maryland still has significant air quality challenges ahead and is striving to work hard to meet these challenges and bring healthy air to the citizens of Maryland. The Healthy Air Act and Governor Ehrlich’s Clean Power Rules are the key to bringing Maryland into compliance with new federal ozone and fine particulate air quality standards by 2010 and will also help clean up the Bay,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “Maryland continues to be a national leader in air quality.”