Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bad smog forecast for DC tomorrow: EPA, please take note!

The US EPA predicts bad levels of smog in the Washington, D.C. area tomorrow.

According to the agency, the "air quality index" for ozone in DC is predicted to be 93 -- a level that officially is recorded as "code yellow" or "moderate." On the surface, it sounds somewhat benign.

The only ones who really need to worry -- or so EPA says -- are "unusually sensitive individuals" defined as "Children and people with asthma."

According to the EPA, "Unusually sensitive individuals may experience respiratory symptoms. Unusually sensitive people should consider limiting prolonged outdoor exertion."

By the way, in case you've ever wondered how the AQI translates into actual pollution levels, EPA has an online calculator:

An AQI of 93 translates into an 8-hour ozone concentration of 73 -- something legally permissable under the weak and polluter-friendly ozone standards set by the Bush administration. EPA's science advisers have repeatedly argued for a tougher standard between 60 and 70.

Needless to say, big polluters are resisting, and the Obama administration -- after initially proposing to follow the sound advice of the scientists -- has repeatedly gotten cold feet.

EPA has promised to set a revised standard by late July. Meanwhile those "unusually sensistive individuals" -- and all the rest of us! -- are waiting and hoping the agency follows the science and sets a standard that will permit us to go outside in the summer.

1 comment:

Donna said...

I'm sensitive to smog. I wish there were a better EPA alerting system and greater concern from industry about our need for clean air. People need to continually speak up for clean air. To their legislators and industry. Otherwise, I'm afraid industry lobbyists will win their right to pollute, over our need to breathe well. Washington, DC is a beautiful city. Air pollution; it's a shame.