Northeast Ohio Air Quality Attainment Status
Currently, Northeast Ohio (seven-counties: Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Summit and Portage counties) is in nonattainment of the Clean Air Act’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine particle pollution (PM2.5). Recently, USEPA designated the area around the Ferro Corporation (on E. 56th Street) to be in nonattainment of the NAAQS for lead (Pb). The region (eight-counties including Geauga) is expected to be designated in nonattainment of the new (2008) O3 standard within the year. More information regarding the current attainment status of the region and the rest of the state of Ohio can be found by visiting Ohio EPA’s NAAQS Attainment Status webpage.
National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)
The Clean Air Act, which was last amended in 1990, requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (40 CFR part 50) for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment. The Clean Air Act established two types of national air quality standards. Primary standards set limits to protect public health, including the health of “sensitive” populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. Secondary standards set limits to protect public welfare, including protection against decreased visibility, damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings.
The EPA Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) has set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for six principal pollutants, which are called “criteria” pollutants including:
- Ozone (O3)
- Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
- Particulate matter (PM10 PM2.5)
- Carbon monoxide (CO)
- Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
- Lead (Pb)
NAAQS & the Air Quality Index (AQI)
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an index for reporting daily air quality. The index is used to illustrate how clean or polluted the air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern. The AQI focuses on health effects that may be experienced within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards (NAAQS) to protect public health .Ground-level ozone and airborne particles are the two pollutants that pose the greatest threat to human health in this country.
The AQI is color-coded for ease of understanding. The ambient air quality is measured and/or forecasted according to six levels of health concerns:
Current & Forecasted AQI levels
The USEPA, along with other federal, state and local agencies, developed the AIRNow Web site to provide the public with easy access to national air quality information. The Web site offers daily AQI forecasts as well as real-time AQI conditions for over 300 cities across the US. Visit www.airnow.gov for more information.
NOACA’s Air Quality Programs: Pollution Advisory Forecast & Current Condition Maps
The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency’s (NOACA) Air Quality Programs issue air pollution advisories when ambient air quality levels for ozone and fine particle pollution are expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups and the general public. NOACA forecasts yearlong for fine particle pollution and for ozone from May until September each year. Additionally, NOACA’s Air Quality Programs map current air quality conditions and provide access to achieved historical monitor readings. The public can also sign up to receive air pollution advisories by visiting http://www.noaca.org/aqprogram.html.