What actions should be taken when poor air quality episodes are forecasted? The Air Quality Action Guide can help you choose appropriate actions to reduce your exposure to pollution and to actively participate in minimizing air pollution levels. Remember to do your share for cleaner air!
The Department offers 3-day air quality forecasts for the Metropolitan Baltimore, Metropolitan Washington, Eastern Shore, and Western Maryland regions. These forecasts are available year-round for fine particle pollution and in April - September for ground-level ozone pollution. Ozone becomes a public health concern from late spring through the early fall months as a result of plenty of sunlight and hot temperatures. These air quality forecasts and discussions are prepared by Department meteorologists in partnership with Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ).
In 2001, the Department of the Environment, Baltimore Metropolitan Council, and regional authorities MWCOG, VADEQ, and Washington DC Department of Health launched an air quality outreach website called "Air-Watch". Air-Watch provided the public with easy access to local and national air quality information by educating citizens about potential health risks related to air pollution. Furthermore, it strived to develop awareness and encourage public participation in finding solutions to air pollution. In 2007, Air-Watch became Clean Air Partners. For more history of the Department's Air Quality Forecasting Program, see the timeline provided below.
EPA revises the ozone 8-hour average health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) and its AQI, effective December 2015.
EPA revises the particulate matter annual health-based NAAQS and the daily fine particle pollution AQI, effective March 2013.
The Department collaborates with local National Weather Service (NWS) offices of Baltimore/Washington, Philadelphia/Mount Holly, and Wakefield, VA to provide Air Quality Alerts on the NWS Map for Maryland and Metropolitan Washington when the Department forecasts poor air quality.
Air quality forecast discussions are now provided for the Metropolitan Baltimore, Western Maryland, and Eastern Shore regions.
The Department partners up with AirNow's EnviroFlash air quality notification program to increase dissemination of air quality forecasts and current air quality conditions to the public. Users can receive notifications via email or text message.
EPA revises the ozone health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) and its AQI, effective May 2008.
Air-Watch is combined and migrated into the improved Clean Air Partners website. Air quality forecasts, notifications, and air quality information are available through the Clean Air Partners website.
The Department expands the air quality forecasting program to the Eastern Shore. The 3-day air quality forecasts are now available state-wide and year-round for the 4 regions: Metropolitan Baltimore, Metropolitan Washington, Western Maryland, and Eastern Shore.
Air quality forecasting program expands operations to include 3-day air quality forecasts year-round. The Department also adds the Western Maryland region to the program. The 3-day air quality forecasts are now available for 3 regions: Metropolitan Baltimore, Metropolitan Washington, and Western Maryland. Additionally, forecast discussions are made available for the Metropolitan Baltimore region.
Summer ozone forecasting program expands to include year-round fine particle pollution and is renamed the Air Quality Forecasting Program. Daily air quality forecasts are now available year-round. Ozone Action Day is changed to Air Quality Action Day reflecting the multi-pollutant emphasis.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) begins to provide operational air quality forecast model guidance. These guidance products are often used by many state and local agency air quality forecasters.
Regional authorities in the Baltimore and Washington DC metropolitan areas launch an air quality outreach website called "Air-Watch" to provide the public with easy access to air quality information, education about potential health risks related to air pollution, and to raise awareness while encouraging the public to actively participate in finding solutions to air pollution.
EPA adopts the color-coded forecasting method, originally developed by the Department and the American Lung Association, as part of the federal Air Quality Index (AQI) to present air quality information and forecasts to the public.
Pilot mapping for ground-level ozone gains national recognition. EPA starts a national ground-level ozone mapping program.
Ozone Action Day program begins through the ENDZONE partnership to promote voluntary actions to reduce air pollution and protect public health.
The Department takes on the primary role in air quality forecasting for Maryland. A regional collaboration is established between the Department, MWCOG, and VADEQ to expand the ozone forecasting program to include both the Baltimore and Washington DC metropolitan areas. Based on this regional collaboration, the "ENDZONE", for End Ozone, partnership is formed.
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