BALTIMORE, MD (May 1, 2007) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) reminds residents of Maryland and the Washington metropolitan area that they have easy access to air quality forecasts and tips to help them breathe easier during ozone season. May 1 marks the beginning of ground level ozone season in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area and it ends Sept. 30. MDE forecasts for fine particle pollution continue throughout the entire year.
Air quality levels have improved dramatically over the last several years because of new regulatory programs within Maryland and outside of the State as well. With enactment of the 2007 Clean Cars Program and the 2006 Healthy Air Act, Maryland is on target to meet federal air quality standards by 2010 and bring healthier air to both our citizens and those of neighboring states, but there are still things Maryland’s citizens can do to help protect their health and the environment.
“During the ozone season, it is important for us all to be aware of the air quality and take actions to protect our health and take steps that make for a healthier environment,” said MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson. “Our extended, three-day, air quality forecasts are an excellent tool to help people inform and protect themselves from air pollution.”
MDE offers extended range air quality forecasts that provide the public advanced notice of air quality events. This advance notice allows the public to limit their exposure to unhealthy air and enact a plan to reduce pollution at home and at work.
MDE forecasts daily ozone and particle levels and issues e-mails to the public, businesses and the media via AirAlerts. AirAlert email forecasts and notifications are free to the public and users can sign-up at www.cleanairpartners.net. The forecast is also available on the air quality hotline at (410) 537-3247. Visitors to the Clean Air Partners web site can also monitor current air quality conditions throughout the region and can customize their AirAlert profile to meet their air quality information needs.
“It is important for Maryland’s citizens to take an active role in helping to further clean Maryland’s air by monitoring their local air quality, and, we hope, to then become actively involved in protecting their health and finding solutions to air pollution,” said Tad Aburn, director of MDE’s Air and Radiation Management Administration. “Because of aggressive regulatory programs targeting larger sources, we now find that emissions from lawn mowing, painting, and other consumer products are at least three times greater than hydrocarbon emissions from smoke stacks. These are areas where voluntary action can really make a difference.”
Research has also shown that pollution blown into Maryland from other states is a significant factor in the quality of Maryland’s air. Without more stringent regional controls, it will be very difficult for Maryland to achieve the national air quality standards.
Throughout the month of May (Clean Commute Month) and into the summer, people are encouraged to try alternatives to commuting in a single occupied vehicle, such as forming a carpool, use public transit, telework, walk or bicycle. These alternatives reduce pollution from tailpipe emissions by reducing the number of vehicles on our roadways.
Another important way of preventing and reducing pollution is to drive a well-maintained vehicle. MDE and its partners will be holding several Car Care Clinics in May and June - Car Care Clinic locations will be posted on both the MDE website and the Clean Commute website as they are scheduled. The clinics will have certified technicians who, with car owners, will visually inspect vehicles and demonstrate how to check tire pressure, fluid levels, wiper blades, filters, etc. Each inspection will take approximately 20 minutes.
For more information on air quality, call MDE’s Air Quality Hotline at (410) 537-3247 or MDE’s Air and Radiation Management Administration at (410) 537-3265. To learn more about Clean Commute Month and the Car Care Clinics, visit mde.maryland.gov/air or www.baltometro.org/cc/cleancommute.html.