Code Yellow Air Quality Forecast

Via Virginia DEQ:

Air quality forecasts for June 14, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Kristen Stumpf, (804) 698-4414 or Mike Kiss, (804) 698-4460

Air quality forecasts for June 14, 2016

More detailed information is available on the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality web site at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Air/AirQualityForecasting.aspx

Hampton Roads
Color Code: Yellow – Moderate air quality
Primary Pollutant: Ozone

Richmond
Color Code: Yellow – Moderate air quality
Primary Pollutant: Ozone

Roanoke
Color Code: Yellow – Moderate air quality
Primary Pollutant: Ozone

Winchester
Color Code: Green – Good air quality
Primary Pollutant: Ozone

Health Information
Code Orange: Active children, teenagers, adults, and people with heart or lung disease (including asthma) should limit or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities.

Code Red: Active children, teenagers, and adults should limit or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities. People unusually sensitive to air pollution, especially those with heart or lung disease (including asthma), should avoid strenuous outdoor activities.

Code Purple: Active children, teenagers, and adults should avoid prolonged strenuous outdoor activities. People unusually sensitive to air pollution, especially those with heart or lung disease (including asthma), and older adults should avoid all outdoor strenuous activities.

High air pollution levels can impair breathing, cause lung damage, coughing and eye irritation and put extra strain on the heart. Air pollution also can aggravate asthma, bronchitis or emphysema.

Kristen Stumpf
Meteorologist
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
Phone: (804) 698-4414
Work Email: Kristen.Stumpf@deq.virginia.gov
Air Quality Forecast Webpage:
http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Air/AirQualityForecasting.aspx
Office of Air Quality Assessments Webpage:
http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Air/AirQualityAssessments.aspx

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High Pollen Alert for Roanoke

Weather.com has updated their website design and has provided some additional (or simply previously harder-to-find) pollen data.

The forecast for the Roanoke region for today and tomorrow is showing high levels of pollen – so keep that in mind if you suffer from allergies or allergy-triggered asthma.

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Take the Clean Commute Challenge

CCC_Times-Sticky-NoteOne of the things anyone can do to improve air quality in the Roanoke Valley is to take fewer vehicle trips.  Driving less means fewer emissions, fewer particulates, and fewer of the precursor pollutants that can lead to ozone pollution.

In fact, May is the traditional start of the summer ozone season, so it’s a particularly good time to start paying attention to what the community can do to keep the air clean.

The RIDE Solutions Clean Commute Challenge is one way to do this. Take the pledge to use an alternative mode at least ONE day in May – bike, walk, take the bus, carpool, or telecommute instead of driving alone – and you’ll not only help clean the valley’s air, but you’ll also earn chances to win prizes – including FloydFest passes!

Visit www.ridesolutions.org/cleancommute to take the pledge.

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Note on 4/19 Air Quality

I’m sharing this note from Mark Barker, who monitors our regional air quality data:

Roanoke Valley ozone was on the edge of an orange day on Tuesday.   According to EPA Daily AQI map we did get to AQI of 101 for an orange day.   However,  my calculation shows that we were just under at 100.   The last regs I read was that the average is NOT rounded up.  Will wait for the “official” word on Tuesday.

airquality.png

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Air Quality Data Updated for March

Our air quality data tracking sheet has been updated with March data.  You can find it here, with a summary below.

Of note:  The area’s particulate matter (PM 2.5) monitor has been out of commission since March 9th and has been sent to Richmond for repairs.

AQI-201603

 

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VADEQ to Resume Ozone Monitoring

From the Virginia DEQ:

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Will Resume Ozone Air Quality Forecasts via E-mail on Monday, April 18th

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Will Resume Ozone Air Quality Forecasts via E-mail on Monday, April 18th

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will resume ground-level ozone air quality forecasts in addition to the currently-issued particle pollution forecasts via e-mail on Monday, April 18th. The ozone forecasts will continue until mid-to-late September. Air quality forecasts will be issued for Roanoke, Hampton Roads, Winchester and Richmond. Forecasts will be issued through mid-to-late September. If you know someone else who would like to receive these forecasts, please have them sign up to receive the daily forecasts and/or air quality health alerts at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/ConnectWithDEQ/NewsFeeds.aspx. Northern Virginia air quality forecasts are sent out from Clean Air Partners via http://www.cleanairpartners.net/airalert.cfm.

DEQ will issue forecasts for the following day by 3:10 pm EDT. An Air Quality Health Advisory will be issued for any region of Virginia where unhealthy levels occur. Color-coded air quality forecasts and the current Air Quality Index (AQI) for Roanoke, Hampton Roads, Winchester, Richmond and Northern Virginia area will be available on the DEQ web site at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Air/AirQualityForecasting.aspx. Air quality forecasts are also available via an RSS feed at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/lists/?action=rss_list&id=16 and via the EPA AIRNow web site at http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_state&stateid=48&tab=0. Additionally, air quality health alerts are available via an RSS feed at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/lists/?action=rss_list&id=15. Generally, our qualitative forecast accuracy is around 80 percent correct in each location.

The AQI may peak well after 6:00 pm in most areas when ozone is the dominant pollutant. It may peak overnight or in the early morning hours in the Shenandoah National Park. The particle pollution AQI is usually higher than the ozone AQI in the morning hours due to the diurnal pattern of ozone formation. Particle pollution levels may stay elevated all day and/or night whereas ozone levels peak in the afternoon and early evening hours. Animated air quality maps for “North Carolina/Virginia” will be found at http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_state&stateid=48&tab=0. These maps are updated hourly. Maps such as these are also available from weather service data providers such as WSI, Weather Central Inc., and others for on-air use. Television stations are urged to use the air quality maps regularly in conjunction with the DEQ air quality forecasts to inform the public about daily air quality in their area.

DEQ uses a color-code forecast scheme:

Code Green indicates good air quality is expected the following day with either PM2.5 or ozone in the healthy range. Air quality is considered satisfactory with little or no risk.
Code Yellow indicates moderate air quality is expected the following day with either PM2.5 or ozone in the moderate range. Unusually sensitive people should consider limiting or rescheduling strenuous outdoor activities.

Please note: An Air Quality Action Day will begin at the Code Orange level. A Code Orange Air Quality Action Day indicates unhealthy-for-sensitive-groups air quality is expected the following day. Active children and adults and people with cardio or respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema should limit or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities.

A Code Red Air Quality Action Day indicates unhealthy air quality is expected the following day. Active children and adults, and people with cardio or respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis or emphysema should avoid prolonged strenuous outdoor activities. Everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged strenuous outdoor activities.
A Code Purple Air Quality Action Day indicates very unhealthy air quality is expected the following day. Active children and adults, people unusually sensitive to air pollution, especially those with heart or lung disease (including asthma), and older adults should avoid all outdoor strenuous activities. Everyone else should limit strenuous outdoor activities.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact Bill Hayden, Communications Manager, DEQ Public Information and Outreach at William.Hayden@deq.virginia.gov or (804) 698-4447, Mike Kiss, DEQ Meteorologist at Michael.Kiss@deq.virginia.gov or (804) 698-4460, Kristen Stumpf, DEQ Meteorologist at Kristen.Stumpf@deq.virginia.gov or (804) 698-4414, or me, Dan Salkovitz, DEQ Meteorologist at Daniel.Salkovitz@deq.virginia.gov or (804) 698-4404 (usually 6:30 am-3:15 pm).

Dan Salkovitz
Meteorologist
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Mailing address: P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218
Street address: 629 E. Main St., 8th Floor, Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804) 698-4404 Fax: (804) 698-4510
Phone toll-free in Virginia: (1-800) 592-5482 ext. 4404
Work e-mail: Daniel.Salkovitz@deq.virginia.gov
Air Quality Forecast Webpage:
http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Air/AirQualityForecasting.aspx
Office of Air Quality Assessments Webpage:
http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Air/AirQualityAssessments.aspx

DEQ mailing lists are an opt-in service from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. If you have received this message in error, or would like to be removed from or added to any of our mailing lists, you can change your subscription status on our website at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/ConnectWithDEQ/NewsFeeds.aspx.
You can read the archives for this list online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/lists/?action=show_list&id=15.
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Spring Break Allergy Tips

With spring break around the corner and summer vacation on the horizon, it’s time to start thinking about travel and allergies.  The Allergy and Asthma Network has some great tips on what to plan for when going on holiday everything from what to consider in your accommodations, to taking a little time to research your climate before you go.  For example:

Research accommodations before booking. Don’t just look at hotel or resort photos online. Inquire about smoking and pet policies if those are among your symptom triggers and read as many online reviews about the hotel as you can. A knowledgeable travel agent may be able to help with specific questions about asthma- and allergy-friendly hotels.
Follow the link above for more helpful tips.
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Camp Catch UR Breath Accepting Registrations

Our annual asthma camp, Camp Catch UR Breath, is now accepting registrations for its summer session. Here are the details:

What: Roanoke Camp Catch UR Breath for children ages 6-12 years with persistent asthma

When: July 13-15, 2016,  8 AM- 4 PM

Where:  Virginia Western Community College Natural Science Center

Contact: For more information, please contact Sally Southard at swsouthard@carilionclinic.org or 540-985-4041

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Roanoke Air Quality Updated for February

Our monthly air quality index tracking spreadsheet has been updated for February.

AQI-201602

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Study Shows Coal Particle Pollution the Worst

A report from NYU’s Langone Medical Center shows that particle pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is significantly more dangerous to human health than pollution from other sources:

The investigators found that—pound for pound—particles from coal burning contribute about five times more to the risk of death from heart disease than other air pollution particles of the same size—less than one ten-thousandth of an inch in diameter (known as PM 2.5).

In the Roanoke region, our coalition and other health groups have become more concerned about PM 2.5 as a risk to human health.  This is in part because more of our energy in the region is generated from coal, and while those power plants may not lie directly in the Roanoke Valley, air patterns can bring those pollutants into the valley, where they collect and contribute to air quality issues.

In the past, ground level ozone – or smog – has been the primarily air quality challenge for our citizens.  As ozone pollution has seen significant reductions, though, concern about PM 2.5 has grown.  This is for two reasons:

  1. A primary catalyst for ozone is heat; so, while it can be a problem during the summer, it’s not a year round air quality challenge in the same way PM 2.5 is.  In fact, in some places PM 2.5 is a bigger challenge in the winter because wood burning stoves and furnaces release particle pollution and can see heavy use in the colder months.
  2. Tailpipe emissions from vehicles in the valley also give off PM 2.5.  Because of our topography, vehicle emissions generated here tend to stay here – including what’s generated by big trucks as they take I-81 through the valley.

While there have been some recent successes in terms of coal-burning energy sources with the closing of the Glen Lyn power plant, the more we learn of PM 2.5 and its varied health impact, the more vigilant we need to be about its sources and ways to mitigate its effect.

As always, there’s a lot we can do as citizens to affect this.  Anything you do to reduce energy consumption will also reduce PM 2.5 emissions, so there’s a double-impact of reducing greenhouse gas emissions that affect us globally, and particle pollution that impacts us local.  Driving less and biking, walking, or taking transit helps reduce vehicle emissions that get trapped in the valley.  And, of course, taking appropriate measures to weatherize your home can both reduce the energy needed to keep it comfortable, as well as reduce the amount of outside air that might be bringing pollutants into the house.

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