By Kathalyn Gaither
May is Clean Air Month — a designation especially important to Floridians, since we live in a state that is among the cleanest in the nation according to the 2012 State of the Air report conducted by the American Lung Association.
The report was compiled from data taken to determine ground-level ozone and particulate matter concentration levels for a three-year testing period – 2008 through 2010. The national ambient air quality standard for ozone is 0.075 parts per million over an eight-hour period. In the daily Air Quality Index, ozone concentrations are ranked as:
• 0.000-0.059: Good (green)
• 0.060-0.075: Moderate (yellow)
• 0.076-0.095: Unhealthy for sensitive groups (orange)
• 0.096-0.115: Unhealthy (red)
• 0.116-0.374: Very unhealthy (purple)
• >0.374: Hazardous (maroon)
During the three-year period, there were zero maroon and purple days, one red day and 89 orange days among the 33 Florida counties tested. The number of orange days for ozone averages less than four per year for all Florida cities and counties.
The national Air Quality Index levels for particulate matter in a 24-hour period are:
• 0.0-15.4: Good (green)
• 5.5-35.0: Moderate (yellow)
• 35.1-65.4: Unhealthy for sensitive groups (orange)
• 65.5-150.4: Unhealthy (red)
• 150.5-250.4: Very unhealthy (purple)
• >250.5: Hazardous (maroon)
During the same three-year period, Florida’s monitoring sites showed just four orange level days and no days above that level. For particulate matter, the number of orange particulate matter days average less than one per year for all areas of Florida.
Of the 46 cities selected for the cleanest air pertaining to ozone, three Florida cities made the list: Ocala, Naples/Marco Island and Port St. Lucie/Sebastian/Vero Beach.
Of the top 25 cleanest U.S. cities relating to year-round particle levels, five Florida cities were included: Sarasota/Bradenton/Punta Gorda, Cape Coral/Fort Myers, Palm Bay/Melbourne/Titusville, Gainesville and Port St. Lucie/Sebastian/Vero Beach. And for the cleanest U.S. cities for short-term particle levels, eight Florida cities made the list.
With endless recreational opportunities available to Floridians and out-of-state visitors, knowing that Florida’s air quality is among the best in the nation is just another reason to get outside and enjoy the activity of your choice.
Learn more about DEP’s Division of Air Resource Management.
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