Group: More cars on the road plus summer heat means poor air quality

The summer’s scorching temperatures combined with returning traffic on roadways across D.C., Maryland and Virginia, means the chances of poor air quality are on the rise.

Though many drivers may be on the road less than before the COVID-19 pandemic, vehicle emissions are still one of the main contributors to the formation of ground-level ozone, according to Clean Air Partners.

“While the impacts of ground-level ozone can be unhealthy for the region and our community members — especially those with lung conditions — the steps to address ground-level ozone are actually very simple,” said Fatemeh Allahdoust, chair of the Clean Air Partners Board.

Clean Air Partners, a public-private partnership created by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and Baltimore Metropolitan Council to educate the region about the health risks linked with air pollution, is ramping up efforts to spread public awareness about air quality for “Ozone Action Week.”

Allahdoust said Ozone Action Week, which started Monday, aims to show people that it can “be easy and even fun” to combat ground-level ozone during the summer.

Drivers can take these steps, as outlined by Clean Air Partners:

  • Refuel your vehicles after dusk
  • Inflate your tires properly
  • Don’t top off and tighten your gas cap
  • Avoid idling in your car
  • Perform regular maintenance on your vehicle
  • Combine errands into one trip.

Summertime’s high temperatures coupled with still air can trap ground-level ozone, creating poor air quality days, referred to as Code Orange and Code Reds days based on the Air Quality Index, the group said.

Those days are dangerous to the environment and people’s heath, especially those with preexisting medical conditions such as asthma and other lung conditions.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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