Air Quality Awareness Week: The Basics

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | e-mail | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Monday marks the first day of "Air Quality Awareness Week" in Georgia, and with the area scoring poorly on the latest air quality test, we're going to tell you what that means for you.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently increased the air quality standards, placing Columbus at a dangerous level.

Columbus Planning Director, Rick Jones told News Leader Nine, "For the most part, we've been bordering on the level of non-attainment for some time but we always managed to stay out of it. With the new standards, we look to stand in non-attainment and that could put a negative affect on everything we do and how we do it."

In an effort to help, The Clean Air Campaign is trying to encourage more people to reduce air pollution.

Wanda Jenkins, the Clean-Air Campaign Manager, explained, "My job is to work with area employers in establishing a clean-air campaign. We work within the organization and work in the community and within an organization and getting them to participate in commute options."

Jenkins says with a growing community, it appears the air quality might get worse, "We have over 185,000 people here in the Metro area and we're growing by leaps and bounds. When we talk about adding more people in Muscogee County they bring more cars and with more cars we have more pollution in the air."

But don't place all the blame on Columbus, Jones says neighboring cities could cause our poor air quality, "Cases in the past show it's not what Columbus is creating but places like Birmingham and Atlanta contribute to the problem in the Columbus region."

And Jenkins points out, cars aren't the only cause of poor air quality, "Our region has the perfect combination of smog with temperature, stagnant weather and winds and pollutants. All that added can cause ground level ozone."

Every day this week has a different theme revolving around "Air Quality Awareness". News Leader Nine will touch on topics like how poor air affects your health, how to check the air quality yourself and what you can do to improve it.