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 2013 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 – 2009 through 2011. 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, of the 36 counties where ozone levels are monitored, there were zero maroon, purple or red days for high ozone levels and only 67 orange days.
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 for particulate matter 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.
Four cities in the nation ranked on all three lists of the cleanest cities in 2009 – 2011. Two of those cities are in Florida – Cape Coral/Fort Myers and Palm Bay/Melbourne/Titusville.
The list of 16 cities ranked cleanest for both year-round and short-term particle pollution included the two listed above, and additionally Lakeland/Winter Haven and Sarasota.
- Of the 80 cleanest U.S. cities for short-term particle pollution in the nation, Florida has seven.
- Of the top 25 cleanest U.S. cities for year-round particle pollution, six are in Florida.
- Of the top 47 cleanest U.S. cities for ozone air pollution, four are in Florida.
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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