Air Quality 101

What Air Pollutants in the Baltimore Region Does Traffic Contribute to?

Traffic from vehicles (cars, trucks, etc.) in the Baltimore region contributes to fine particulate matter (fine soot) and ground-level ozone, as well as other pollutants. Ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter are a major concern because the region is not reaching federal standards for these pollutants.

How is Ground-Level Ozone Formed?

Ground-level ozone is formed by the combination of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides (NOX) and sunlight. VOCs come from gasoline, paint, solvents, pesticides and charcoal lighter fluid. They are also formed naturally. NOX comes from cars, trucks, and buses, as well as power plants, and coal-burning stoves.

VOCs + NOX + Sunlight = Ozone

How is Particulate Matter Formed?

Particulate matter is formed both directly and indirectly. It is formed directly by motor vehicles exhaust, fires, power plants, construction dust, and unpaved roads.

EPA - Direct release of Particles
Source: www.epa.gov

Particulate matter is formed indirectly when products of fuel combustion, sunlight, and water vapor react with each other to create particles.


EPA - Reaction
Source: www.epa.gov

 


Facts on the Baltimore Region’s Air Quality

Fact #1: The Baltimore region is not currently meeting federal standards for 8-hour ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter (or fine soot).

Fact #2: The Baltimore/Washington D.C./Northern Virginia region was ranked 13th for ozone pollution by the American Lung Association in their State of the Air 2005 report.

Fact #3: Harford County ranked within the top 25 most polluted counties in the country, in terms of ozone pollution, by the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2012 report. At the same time, Harford County ranks as one of the cleanest counties in the country for short-term particle pollution.

Fact #4: The Baltimore/Washington D.C./Northern Virginia region was ranked 22nd for short-term particle pollution by the American Lung Association in their State of the Air 2012 report.

Fact #5: Baltimore City ranked in the top 25 most polluted jurisdictionss for short-term particle pollution, by the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2005 report.


Why should we care?

The issue of air pollution in the Baltimore region is a critical one because ozone and fine particulates can cause respiratory systems and other serious health problems in sensitive populations. In addition, fine particulates can increase rates of cardiovascular illness and may reduce life span.


For more information contact:
Sara Tomlinson, stomlinson@baltometro.org or 410-732-0500 x1035.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 July 2017 18:52