Virginia DEQ: Historic year for air quality in Richmond
For the first time since the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality began monitoring air quality in the early 1970s, the Richmond metropolitan area recorded zero unhealthy ozone air quality days this year.
DEQ evaluates air quality using information from 40 stations around Virginia.
The estimated air quality index, or AQI, is used to describe how clean the air is and what health effects might be expected. At high levels, ground level ozone and particle pollution may raise health concerns. Unhealthy air quality days are characterized as days when sensitive people are advised to reschedule strenuous outdoor activities.
“To finally achieve zero days with poor air quality in Richmond is a major accomplishment,” said DEQ Director David Paylor. “In 1993, the worst year on record, Richmond experienced 76 days with poor air quality. Together we are making tangible progress through more stringent pollution limits, control technology, more efficient vehicles, cleaner fuels and of course, ridesharing and alternative transportation.”
“Despite an unusually hot and dry summer that seems to have no end in sight, pollution has continued to decrease because so many of us are taking action,” said RideFinders Executive Director Von Tisdale. “More than 9,000 registered commuters and 144 vanpools now participate in our programs — often due to local employers who help with these costs. Our efforts to increase ridesharing and transportation efficiency are clearly making a difference.”
The ozone pollution forecasting season, when DEQ provides daily color-coded forecasts using the AQI, ended on Oct. 2, and will begin again next April. However, DEQ will continue to issue forecasts for particulate pollution throughout the fall and winter.
DEQ’s website displays real-time air quality information from ozone and particulate pollution monitors. DEQ’s team of meteorologists issues daily forecasts and health alerts when air pollution can impact sensitive populations. Citizens can sign up for daily air quality forecasts, as well as health alerts via email.