Written by Tori Jercich, Air Quality Specialist

It is officially ozone season! What does that mean exactly? Well, as you may recall from a science class way-back-when:

“Ozone forms in the air when nitrogen oxides react with…”

You know what? It’s okay if you don’t remember the science behind it. The main takeaway is that ozone can degrade air quality and cause health problems. So, what does that mean for you?

Air Quality Index

From March 1 to October 31, knowing the Air Quality Index (AQI) is key to protecting your health. The AQI is a color-coded scale used to share the health impacts of air quality. You can look at it daily to decide when to go outdoors and whether it’s safe to exert yourself. When the AQI Color Code is green or yellow, the air quality is “acceptable” and is not expected to have widespread health impacts. Other colors tell you whether sensitive groups or the general public should be more cautious. For example, on particularly unhealthy days, it might not be a good idea to exercise outdoors.

Help Us Continue Progress in Local Air Quality

Locally, our air quality is looking good and continues to improve! “Good” air quality days have more than doubled since 2004. On a broader level, Mecklenburg County also currently meets all federal, health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards. 

Despite the progress, ground-level ozone remains a concern for Mecklenburg County. We just barely meet the health-based standard. While we’re working to create some breathing room, this summer is critical for the county to continue to be in compliance of the national standard. Compliance is based on a 3-year average for the ozone levels in the county.  If we go past the standard too often this summer, we will cause the average to exceed the compliance standard. We all need to take steps to reduce air pollution.

Stay Informed

There are multiple ways to keep an eye on our local air quality daily. You can subscribe to Air Quality forecast emails. You can also check Mecklenburg County Air Quality’s website to view current conditions from the 5 monitoring stations across the County! Each station takes hundreds of measurements daily that inform the AQI. 

But that’s not all. The Mecklenburg County Air Quality team works together to collect quality data, issue permits, and partner with the community to protect the air we all breathe. Learn more about our work and how you can help reduce air pollution at airquality.mecknc.gov