Triangle air quality not making the grade

April 29, 2009 8:22:35 PM PDT
Wake County isn't getting a passing grade when it comes to air quality.More than half the counties monitored across the state are failing according to the American Lung Association.

According to their latest report, breathing in bad air in Wake County is like sunburn for your lungs. The biggest problem across the state is ozone pollution.

"It forms in the air on hot sunny days when you don't have rain or wind," Tom Mather with the NC Division of Air Quality said.

Just about every county across the state that was monitored, including Wake, Durham and Cumberland Counties, scored an F for ozone pollution.

Wake County also fails when it comes to particle pollution --a mixture of dangerous pollutants caused by exhaust, fires and burning fuels.

Durham County scores a little better with a C, Cumberland gets a B and Orange County is one of the few in the state to score an A.

"Just because they give an F does not mean that we consider our air quality an F," Mather said.

Mather says the EPA adopted stricter standards last year, making it tough for most places to pass and it's something the state continues to monitor and work on.

"If you compared us to the standard in place 5 or 10 years ago, we'd be A's across the board," Mather said.

Some people, like the sick and elderly, should avoid hot afternoons outdoors.

Experts say you can help improve the air quality in your community by cutting down on energy use, like air conditioning and driving.


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