Hot, hazy and bad for your health


Hot, hazy and bad for your health

Air quality and smog cautions likely as heat rises


Posted 18 July 2011, by Greg Latshaw, Delmarva NOW! (Gannett),

GEORGETOWN — A heat wave expected to hit later this week all but guarantees diminished air quality and smog alerts for the Lower Shore and lower Delaware.

Wind carries pollutants discharged from tailpipes in Baltimore, Wilmington and elsewhere to the Delmarva Peninsula. The emissions transform into ground-level ozone when combined with heat and sunlight.

There were 11 Code Orange and five Code Red days in Maryland as of last Friday, said Jay Apperson, a spokesman with the Maryland Department of the Environment. The Baltimore-Washington metro area was under a Code Orange alert Monday afternoon, while the Eastern Shore air quality was OK.

The color-coded index rates air quality. More bad air is likely on the way, with the forecast approaching 100 degrees by this Friday. For Code Orange days, members of sensitive groups should limit time outside. On a Code Red, everyone should limit their time outside. The worst air is reserved for Code Purple days, when everyone can experience serious health issues.

“An important issue for air quality in Maryland is transport. There are times when up to 70 percent of Maryland’s air pollution is coming from other states,” Apperson said.

In Maryland and Delaware, ozone and particle pollution cause respiratory system problems for residents, said David Fees, managing engineer of the Emission Inventory Development program with the division of air quality for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

Particle pollution comes from many forms — everything from diesel particles emitted by trucks to sulfates from coal-fired power plants. The tiniest particles cause the most damage. The respiratory system can’t filter them out so they get trapped in lungs or enter the bloodstream, where they can damage the heart.

“Particles are the most dangerous and deadly. We want to be attuned to all of them,” Kimberly Williams, a spokeswoman with the American Lung Association, said, adding that particles are the most deadly for people to inhale.

Williams said air-quality monitors placed in Worcester and Sussex counties observed readings that gave a D and F grade, respectively, for ozone, according the lung association’s 2011 “State of the Air” report. Sussex County received a B for particles, while there was insufficient data for Worcester.

Nationally, just under half of all Americans live in counties that received an F rating for ozone pollution, Williams said. That number is one in five Americans for particle pollution.

On air quality action days, people are encouraged to take actions that lower air pollution. They include driving less, not mowing the lawn during the afternoon, minimizing electricity use and putting off painting because of the contents of paint fumes.

“It’s not just big companies spewing out stuff. When we have tens of thousands of people doing the same thing, it adds up,” Fees said.

(Ed Note: Please visit the original site to view the photograph associated with this article)


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