How to help air quality

iChat Image(97278121)The Lexington air quality program takes many forms but its primary mission is to promote pollution reduction activities and healthy air. With cleaner air to breathe, citizens of the area enjoy a better quality of life and avoid possible negative health impacts and emission sanctions.

The major components of the Lexington Air Quality Program are:

1. Air quality forecasts and health alerts
2. The Air Quality Advisory Committee (AQAC) – a subcommittee of the Lexington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization
3. General air quality information on:
a. Ozone (O3)
b. Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5)
c. Climate change (CO2)

1. Air Quality Forecasts and Health Alert

The Unified Planning Work Program The Lexington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) staff uses an ozone and particulate matter air pollution forecasting model to predict the Air Quality Index (AQI) level for the next day. A 3-day forecast is completed on Fridays. The models are used during the ozone season, May 1 – September 30, which has the highest rates of ground-level ozone pollution. Warm temperatures and sunlight heat up emissions from vehicles, factories, power plants, and other sources forming ozone. When pollution is expected to reach a certain level that is unhealthy for sensitive groups, an Air Quality Advisory Alert is issued. If the air quality is forecast to exceed the air quality standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency, an Air Quality Action Day Alert is issued. These alerts promote voluntary measures to help reduce air pollution in the area.

 

2. Air Quality Advisory Committee

AQAC is a subcommittee of the Lexington Area MPO and meets periodically (usually 3-4 times per year) to promote and improve the communities health, quality of life and livability through the reduction of air pollution. Typical discussion items include:

• federal and state air pollution activities
• outreach activities
• upcoming air quality events and milestones
• reporting on Fayette and Jessamine County air pollution monitor readings

Please contact the MPO office for meeting details or if you would like to be added to the AQAC mailing list.

3. General Air Quality Information

a. Ozone (O3) – occurs in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level. Ozone in the upper atmosphere protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays is considered “good” ozone. In the lower atmosphere or ground level, ozone is harmful to human health and the environment and is considered “bad” ozone. It is the intent of the MPO staff to monitor, track, and report on ground level ozone. For more information on ozone, please visit www.airnow.gov

b. Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5) – is a mixture of solids and liquid droplets found in the air. Coarse dust particles (PM10) which are defined as less than 10 micrometers in diameter – about the width of a single human hair – can get into lungs causing health problems. Sources of PM10 include dust stirred up by vehicles and crushing and grinding operations. Fine particulates (PM2.5) are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter and are caused by all types of combustion such as motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, and agricultural burning. Again, for more information, please visit www.airnow.gov

c. Climate Change or Greenhouse Gases – are gases that trap heat within the earth’s atmosphere and occur naturally and are generated by human activities. Some GHG are necessary to keep the earth hospitable for life, but rising levels have been tied to changes in the planet’s temperatures which could lead to harmful effects such as sea-level rise and changes in weather patterns. More information can be found at www.epa.gov/climatechange