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November 9, 2009

Unhealthy air quality in Baltimore

Air Now  

The Maryland Department of the Environment is forecasting unhealthy air quality for "sensitive groups" in Baltimore again on Tuesday, for the second day in a row. Sensitive groups include children and people with heart and respiratory ailments. They should limit their time outdoors. Healthy adults are unlikely to be affected.

Until this week there had been only four "Code Orange" days this year when particulate readings have reached unhealthy levels in the Baltimore region, with none since March, according to the MDE. (That's the Key Bridge through this morning's haze, above.)

High pressure over the region, combined with stagnant air, may be contributing to the unhealthy levels of particulates (soot), weather forecasters said. Air quality in Baltimore also reached unhealthy levels for particulate matter on Monday. Cecil County, too, is under an air quality alert from 1 a.m. Tuesday until 1 a.m. Wednesday. 

Here's more from the Clean Air Partners Website:

"Unlike ground level ozone, particles are not a seasonal pollutant; high levels can occur any time of the year. Unhealthy levels of particle pollution in the air can cause or trigger significant health problems. These range from coughing and difficult or painful breathing to the possibility of an emergency room visit or even premature death. Exposure to particles can decrease lung function, weaken the heart, and possibly bring on a heart attack. The environment also suffers from particle pollution. Particles are the major source of haze, and can harm the environment by changing the nutrient and chemical balance in soil and water."

Better days are coming soon.

"It shouldn't be long-lived," said National Weather Service forecaster Andy Woodcock said of the air pollution. After Tuesday, "the wind will go to the north northeast and stay there for a while." And that should clear the air.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Air quality

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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