Across the United States, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency & the National Weather Service has designated April 29th through May 3rd of this year “Air Quality Awareness Week”.
Across Vermont, the Department of Environmental Conservation has four air quality monitoring sights. Bennington, Rutland, Burlington, and Underhill.
“Here we measure the concentration of pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter in the ambient air,” said Bennet Leon, an environmental analyst for the department’s division of air quality & climate.
“Our concerns are generally ozone… which is a component of smog,” said Leon. “During certain days during the summer, we can have winds transport a lot of the pollutants from urban areas into Vermont.”
Many people may believe the air quality is a summer concern, only. In fact, air quality is a problem we face no matter the season or time of year.
“In the winter time, there can be what is called ‘an inversion layer’. When the winds are still on a cold night, all those pollutants can get trapped near the surface of the earth,” he said.
On days of elevated air pollution, it can become difficult for those with respiratory issues to breath.
Just like checking the weather forecast each day, it’s important to check the air quality forecast (AQI).
“It’s good to know the air quality forecast. Know that it might be a good day to go out for a run in the early morning rather than the afternoon,” said Leon. Typically poor air quality spikes in the afternoon.
For those at home looking to step up and help improve air quality at home, Bennet Leon recommends people heat their homes with clean energy. Secondly, make sure your car is updated on all emission standards.