COLUMBUS — In its recently released Central Ohio Air Quality End of Season Report, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) reports good news this year for Central Ohio residents, especially those with respiratory conditions.
“Central Ohio continues to benefit from improved air quality even while the region is growing,” said Brandi Whetstone, MORPC’s Energy and Air Quality interim director. “Outstanding local programs that decrease air pollution combined with a relatively rainy year, meant Central Ohioans breathed easier during the 2017-2018 season.”
The report, which provides a summary from November 2017 through October 2018, found that during that time there were only three days when air pollution levels reached the Air Quality Index (AQI) Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range for ozone. On these days, people more sensitive to air pollution including children, individuals with lung illnesses such as asthma, and older adults can begin to experience symptoms like shortness of breath and wheezing. While there were no days when particle pollution (PM2.5) reached levels Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, the season’s two highest particle pollution AQI days were both caused by smoke transported from wildfires in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
Ozone levels improved from 2016-2017 to 2017-2018 with the percentage of days in the Good AQI category increasing from 68 percent to 81 percent. Above average precipitation over the past year, especially in the summer months, reduced ozone formation and led to cleaner air quality conditions despite above average temperatures. Local programs, such as SMART Columbus, C-pass, and MORPC’s Gohio Commute, that encourage ridesharing, driving electric vehicles, riding transit, biking and walking also help in keeping harmful pollutants out of the air.
MORPC issues daily air quality forecasts and notifies the public when ozone and particle pollution levels are considered to be unhealthy for sensitive groups of people. From March through October, ground-level ozone levels peak when warm temperatures and sunlight, mixed with pollutants, enhance the formation of ozone. This can create unhealthy levels of air pollution triggering Air Quality Alerts.
Central Ohioans can sign-up online at www.morpc.org/airquality to receive free Air Quality Alert notifications delivered straight to their inbox by email or text message. They can also call MORPC’s toll-free air quality hotline at 1-888-666-1009 for the latest forecast in planning their day to reduce exposure to air pollution. MORPC’s toll-free Air Quality hotline has English and Spanish language options to best serve the Central Ohio community.
The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is a voluntary association of local governments and regional organizations that envisions and embraces innovative directions in economic prosperity, energy, the environment, housing, land use and transportation. Its transformative programming, services, and innovative public policy are designed to promote and support the vitality and growth in the region. For more information, please visit www.morpc.org.
Submitted by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.