Virginia begins ozone pollution forecast season

virginia deqThe Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will resume issuing ground-level ozone air quality forecasts from April 13 through Sept. 25.

Ground-level ozone is a colorless gas that forms when chemicals in the atmosphere react on hot, sunny days. The main sources of ozone are motor vehicle exhaust, power plants, industrial emissions and solvents. A potential cause of a variety of health problems, ozone can travel hundreds of miles from the original source. Even rural areas with fewer pollutants can experience elevated ozone levels.

DEQ issues daily ozone and particle pollution forecasts using the Air Quality Index, a standardized color-coded chart that helps differentiate the potential health impacts of air pollution. Forecasts and current air quality conditions for Roanoke, Hampton Roads, Winchester, Richmond and Northern Virginia are available on the DEQ website.

“Last year was a historically good year for clean air – with no poor air quality days in the Richmond area and a record low in Northern Virginia,” said DEQ Director David Paylor. “We expect this trend to continue across Virginia, however, it’s crucial to remember that summer heat can bring higher levels of ozone pollution, which may lead to respiratory health complications.”

“Even relatively low levels of pollution can affect people,” said Virginia Department of Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “Populations at greater risk include active children, outdoor workers and people with cardiac or respiratory conditions such as asthma or emphysema. Because air pollution and COVID-19 are more likely to affect some groups, it is more important than ever to stay informed.”

Sign up for air quality forecasts

Sign up to receive daily forecasts and air quality health alerts, or follow DEQ on Twitter @VirginiaDEQ. Northern Virginia air quality forecasts and alerts are sent by Clean Air Partners through EnviroFlash.

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