FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dennis Feltgen
News Releases 2007
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Office of Communications
May marks the beginning of ozone season in most areas of the country—a good time to make sure that you check your daily Air Quality Index and forecast information to help you protect your health.
“Be Air Aware: Keep an Eye on the AQI” is the theme of this year’s Air Quality Awareness Week, April 30 to May 4. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency established the awareness week to remind Americans of the importance air quality forecasts can play in their daily lives.
"Weather plays a key role in the levels of ozone and particle pollution in your community. Sunlight and heat promote ozone formation. Light winds and temperature inversions can keep pollution concentrated near the ground," said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. "NOAA is proud to partner with the EPA and state and local agencies in providing Americans with the air quality forecast information necessary to make important health decisions."
“Air quality in the United States is continuing to improve,” said Bill Wehrum, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Still, there are times when air quality can be poor. AQI forecasts can help you plan your day to limit your exposure to air pollution.”
About 300 cities nationwide issue daily forecasts based on EPA’s Air Quality Index, a simple, color-coded scale that describes a community’s air quality and what steps people should take to reduce their exposure to pollution. AQI forecasts are available for ozone, which occurs primarily in summertime, and for particle pollution, which can occur year-round.
New NOAA air quality forecast guidance, updated twice daily on the Web at: http://www.weather.gov/aq, is improving state and local agency forecasters’ ability to predict the onset, severity, and duration of poor air quality. In addition, NOAA’s comprehensive air quality predictions provide hour-by-hour information for people in cities, suburbs, and rural areas over the entire eastern United States. Similar experimental information is now available for the western contiguous United States.
If air pollution reaches high enough levels, the air can be unhealthy for everyone, especially if you are active outdoors. You can reduce your exposure simply by lowering the intensity of your exercise or other activities such as yard work, or rescheduling the activity for a time when air quality is expected to be better.
Daily air quality forecasts are available on the Web site: http://www.airnow.gov/, or through EPA’s EnviroFlash tool, which provides customizable forecasts and action day notifications via e-mail or pager notification.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA and EPA are working with federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
EPA sets national air quality standards for ozone and other common air pollutants as part of its mission to protect public health and the environment. EPA established the Air Quality Index to inform the public about local air quality levels.
On the Web:
NOAA Air Quality Guidance (East U.S.): http://www.nws.noaa.gov/aq/
Air Quality Guidance (West U.S.) http://www.nws.noaa.gov/aq-expr/