Clean Air Partners is announcing its inaugural Ozone Action Week in D.C. and Baltimore, August 3–7.

High summer temperatures have been persistant in the D.C./Baltimore area throughout July and now into the first week of August. These high temperatures alongside still air can create conditions that trap pollutants and increase ground-level ozone, leading to poor air quality and unhealthy conditions, especially for those with asthma, COPD, or other lung diseases. But, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself and improve the air quality in the Baltimore-Washington region on days when the air quality is poor.

Air Quality Index Basics 

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), air quality is considered poor when it registers as Code Orange or Code Red based on the Air Quality Index. 

USEPA Air Quality Index Chart

USEPA Air Quality Index Chart

Tropospheric, or ground level ozone, is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). This happens when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight.

USEPA Ground-level ozone infographic

Ozone is most likely to reach unhealthy levels on hot sunny days in urban environments, but can still reach high levels during colder months. Ozone can also be transported long distances by wind, so even rural areas can experience high ozone levels. 

How to participate in Ozone Action Week

To help people take these easy actions to improve air quality and reduce ground-level ozone during the critical summer months, Clean Air Partners is announcing its inaugural Ozone Action Week, taking place August 3–7. Clean Air Partners has themes each day during Ozone Action Week and will provide daily information and tips around each theme that local residents can use to make their habits better for air quality, including a daily social media challenge. 

“While the impacts of ground-level ozone can be unhealthy for the region and our community members—especially those with lung conditions—the steps to address ground-level ozone are actually very simple,” said Fatemeh Allahdoust, Chair, Clean Air Partners Board. “Ozone Action Week shows Baltimore and Washington residents that it can be easy and even fun to combat ground-level ozone during these critical summer months.” 

To encourage residents to get involved in Ozone Action Week, Clean Air Partners will actively promote the week’s themes and social media challenges online using the hashtag #CAPOzoneAction.

Monday – Cool Down

Share a photo of how you and your family keep cool and energy efficient. 

Tuesday – Exercise Safe

Check today’s air quality index and select a safe workout. Share your exercise selfie. 

Wednesday – Plant Smart

Show us your CO2-breathing, air-cleaning plant babies and garden hauls. 

Thursday – Travel Green

Post a picture of your green ride, whether that’s biking, walking or driving a hybrid or electric vehicle (EV). 

Friday – Cook with Conscience

Show us what you’re cooking with locally sourced foods (bonus points for using a gas or electric grill instead of charcoal!). 

Although regional air quality is improving, according to Clean Air Partners, pollution still threatens the health of 7.5 million people in the DMV region and creates harmful effects on the environment and our ecosystems. However, despite changing weather conditions, regional air quality continues to improve as a result of tighter emission controls and voluntary programs like Clean Air Partners. Even as higher temperatures become more prevalent during summer months (ozone season), the Baltimore-Washington region continues to see fewer unhealthy air quality days as compared to 20 years ago and even the during the last five years.

Clean Air Partners' air quality graph

Courtesy of Clean Air Partners

In addition to the Ozone Action Week steps you can take to reduce ground-level ozone, there are even more ways to be more eco-friendly all year long. Clean Air Partners recommends using public transit or carpooling, properly maintaining your vehicle, making environmentally-conscious purchases, and reducing energy use at home and at work to protect public health, improve air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For instance, did you know that leaving your car at home just two days a week will reduce 1,600 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year? The transportation choices you make, the way you work, and the food you eat are all our part of a smarter way of living. Little choices make big impacts and improve our community—where we live, work, and play.

Do you consider yourself an advocate for our planet's well-being? Share with us other ways you help protect the environment, year-round!