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Many residents are making the best of the Stay at Home order by doing yard work and cleaning out garages and sheds. Unfortunately, the Agency is seeing a rise in open burning, perhaps because residents cannot properly dispose of yard trimmings. Please, do not burn yard trimmings and other materials at this time. Burning woods and other organic materials releases particles in the air that are harmful to everyone's respiratory systems, and especially those with asthma. 
It's important for residents to know the regulations for open burning:
  • It is illegal to burn garbage, rubber, plastic, and oil-based materials, and dead animals. 
  • Recreational fires made only of clean, seasoned firewood are permitted. They may not exceed 3 feet wide by 2 feet high.
  • Any fire larger than a recreational fire, such as agricultural burns, requires a permit from the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency.
  • Some communities require a permit from its fire department. Learn before you burn and consult with your local fire department
fire pit

For additional information and resources, please visit our website. If you are concerned about Open Burning in your neighborhood, contact the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency. Be a good neighbor and refrain from outdoor fires. 

Now is great opportunity to start a backyard compost pile - it's easy. Learn how with guidance from Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District
Posted by joy.landry  On Apr 16, 2020 at 1:47 PM 2 Comments
  

The air quality industry sure loves its acronyms. AQI, PM, NAAQS – what does it all mean?

Here are some common industry terms that will have you talking air quality jargon like a pro!

AQI: Air Quality Index, the industry standard for informing the public about air quality for any given city or region in the United States.

CTG: Control techniques guidelines are EPA documents designed to assist state and local air quality agencies to achieve and maintain air quality standards for specific sources. 

U.S. EPA: United States Environmental Protection Agency, an independent federal agency responsible for maintaining and enforcing national standards for clean air and water. The EPA was founded on July 9, 1970.

NAAQS: National Ambient Air Quality Standards: these are ambient air pollution limitations  enforced across the country for six air pollutants that the U.S. EPA has identified as being harmful to public health. They are ozone, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, and particulate matter.

NCore: a multi-pollutant ambient air monitoring station that is part of a national core network of similar sites across the country. The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency’s NCore site is located at its main offices in Corryville.

NOx: Nitrogen oxides, are collectively referred to as “nocks”. Nitrogen oxides can be found in vehicle and industrial emissions. They aggravate breathing, especially for those who respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

ppb: Parts per billion, the unit of measurement for some gaseous pollutant concentrations. One part per billion means one molecule out of one billion total molecules.
For example, the EPA standard for sulfur dioxide is 75 ppb. Concentrations that surpass 75 ppb as a one-hour average are considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

PM: Particulate matter, also known as particle pollution. PM is measured in two size fractions: PM10 and PM2.5, referring to the microns in diameter of the particles. 

VOC: volatile organic compounds, are gases emitted from certain liquids and solids that may contribute to the formation of ozone. Examples of common products that include VOCs are oil-based paints and gasoline.

Want to learn more? The EPA has 1,987 terms and acronyms in its online glossary!

Posted by joy.landry  On Mar 11, 2020 at 9:55 AM
  

The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency (Agency) is gearing up for pollen and mold season. The Agency will begin counting and posting pollen and mold data on Tuesday, February 18, weather permitting. While it may seem early to begin counting, cedar and elm trees typically begin to pollinate in February.  The results are posted on the Agency’s website and social media platforms.

pollen countingThe Agency provides pollen and mold counts as a public service each year from February through November. Counts are performed Monday through Friday. The sampler is located at the Agency’s office and it captures a sample one minute in each ten minutes for a 24-hour period. Residents who suffer from allergies may find the counts helpful for tracking symptoms that correspond with the prevalent allergens of that day.

Posted by joy.landry  On Feb 13, 2020 at 3:00 PM
  

The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency would like to share with you a U.S. EPA grant opportunity to reduce diesel emissions. Public services/works departments, county park systems, county engineers, and other public organizations that manage fleets may wish to apply. Eligible diesel vehicles include Class 5 – Class 8 heavy duty highway vehicles and non-road engines, equipment or vehicles used in construction. 

Applications are due on February 26. For more information and to access the Request for Applications, visit www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/clean-diesel-national-grants.

The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency is your regional resource for air quality monitoring, permitting, and regulations. Visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Posted by joy.landry  On Jan 16, 2020 at 3:13 PM
  

Congratulations to Paul Tedtman who is calling it a career!

 

Paul

Paul served in the Army as a weather observer in White Sands, New Mexico where the military conducted testing and evaluation of new equipment, including rockets. After his service, Paul earned his BS in Meteorology at Penn State. The meteorology field was very saturated at the time and Paul accepted a job with Environmental Services in 1980. He pursued his Master’s Degree in Environmental Science at the University of Cincinnati. Beginning in 1985, Paul worked as an air quality consultant in private industry, returning to the Agency in 2003. Paul served as an Area Supervisor in the Agency's Permitting and Enforcement Division.

Paul liked the opportunity to see and learn different industrial operations. He enjoyed the variety of his work and learning new things. “Of course, I would remiss if I did not say that I thoroughly enjoyed working with my great co-workers at DOES!” says Paul.

 

“The Agency will be losing 43 years of air quality experience with Paul’s retirement. Paul was the Agency expert in air quality modeling and New Source Review,” states Assistant Director Brad Miller. “He will be greatly missed and we wish him well in retirement.”

Posted by joy.landry  On Nov 15, 2019 at 1:04 PM 2 Comments
  

It was a beautiful, clear morning on September 18. Good conditions for “Smoke School”. This semi-annual certification program challenges participants to accurately read the opacity of 50 different smoke percentages within 15%. Smoke opacity emitted from the testing equipment vary by five percent from zero to 100%. The first 25 emissions are “white smoke” and the last 25 are “black smoke.” The day begins when the contractor, Eastern Technical Associates, discharges a variety of smoke, revealing if the plume is 25%, 50% or 75% opacity so participants can establish a baseline. Weather conditions affect how the smoke may be viewed. For example, it can be more difficult to discern contrast on a sunny day because of the glare.

smoke school
Once participants have become acclimated to the conditions, the official test begins. The 50-smoke test run may take up to an hour; after the 25 white smoke emissions, ETA adjusts their equipment for the black smoke part of the test. When the test is completed, ETA reads out the correct answers and testers self-grade. Then their testing sheets are submitted to ETA for verification. 

Fall 2019 Smoke School had 12 representatives from the Agency, as well as air quality professionals from Dayton, northern Kentucky, and Ohio EPA, and industry representatives. If an individual does not pass the first run, they have four more opportunities that day to do so. Passing Smoke School certifies participants in U.S. EPA Reference Method Nine, established by U.S. EPA in 1974. This authorizes an air quality professional to make stack observations in the field, especially if there is a concern with a facility violating its air permit limitations 

Congratulations to all 12 of our Agency team members for successfully completing Smoke School this September.

 

Posted by joy.landry  On Sep 30, 2019 at 1:20 PM
  

Ragweed, Be Gone!

One of the cruel ironies of Mother Nature: just as the summer heat and humidity begin to dissipate, ragweed rears its ugly head. This nasty, pervasive pollen strikes in late August and prevails until early October or more correctly the first frost, rendering those sensitive to its grains to a state of misery.

A single ragweed plant may produce as much as a billion grains of pollen per season which are easily distributed by a fair breeze. Ragweed pollen can travel as far as two miles up into the atmosphere and have been tracked as far as 400 miles out to sea!

Those who are reactive to ragweed pollen may experience sneezing, running nose, and itchy eyes. What can you do? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Track pollen, using our website. The Agency posts pollen and mold counts, Monday through Friday. Keep in mind that you are seeing the previous day’s count as the collection period is a 24-hour period from 7 a.m. on the previous day to 7 a.m. to the posting day.
  2. Track your body’s reaction to those levels as each person may respond differently to pollen counts.
  3. If possible, avoid outdoor exposure during mornings, when pollen tends to peak, especially on breezy days.
  4. Despite the cooler temperatures, you might be best keeping the windows closed to minimize pollen from entering your home.
  5. If you have been outside, remove clothing and shower right away to remove pollen grains from your hair and skin.
  6. Consult with your health care professional for the best medicinal options to bring you relief.

ragweed
Ragweed even looks scary under the microscope!

Posted by joy.landry  On Sep 09, 2019 at 11:54 AM 2 Comments
  

The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency has an air monitoring network of 58 samplers located at 18 monitoring sites throughout Hamilton, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, and Warren counties. In 2018 alone, the monitoring network generated 332,431 hours of valid monitoring data for critical pollutants including ozone, particulate matter, and nitrogen dioxide.

The Agency achieved a 97% capture rate in 2018 for all required monitors combined; the requirement set by U.S. EPA is 75%. That means that 97% of all possible hours or days of air monitoring data collected by the Agency were valid and reported to the national database. For the first two quarters of 2019, the capture rate for particulate matter is 99%. The ozone capture rate for March through June of 2019 is 98% (ozone monitoring begins March 1 each year). 

monitorOur Monitoring and Analysis team includes technicians in the field, analysts in the laboratory, and managers reviewing incoming data and reports daily; all contribute to the exacting work of collecting, analyzing, and reporting air quality data. A great deal of individual effort and teamwork is invested in keeping the complex monitoring network running, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Technicians and managers monitor the incoming data each day to identify potential issues and prioritize daily tasks. Each monitoring site is visited by technicians at least once a week to conduct routine checks and maintenance. Some data loss is inevitable due to required checks, occasional power outages, mechanical issues, and even wildlife interference. Something as simple as a spider building a web in a gaseous intake line could invalidate data.  Our team takes a proactive approach to identify potential problems early in order to prevent data invalidation when possible, and to minimize unnecessary downtime.

The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency team prides itself in maintaining an excellent capture rate for the benefit of U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA, as well as the public.

You may view hourly and daily air quality data on the Agency’s website, via the Air Quality Map and the Concentration Chart. If you have any questions about the work we do here at the Agency, reach out with our Contact Us form.


Posted by joy.landry  On Aug 30, 2019 at 8:54 AM
  

The National Weather Service Wilmington office has issued an excessive heat warning for southwest Ohio, including Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, and Warren counties. The excessive heat warning went into effect at 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 18 through Saturday, July 20 at 8 p.m.

These high temperatures, combined with the abundant sunshine, are ideal condition for ozone concentrations to rise. Ozone concentrations that exceed 101 on the air quality index may cause members of sensitive groups to experience health effects. Sensitive groups include people with lung disease (such as asthma), older adults, and children. The U.S. EPA recommends that people in sensitive groups avoid prolonged outdoor exertion. The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency will issue an Air Quality Advisory when ozone concentrations are expected to reach the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups level of the Air Quality Index.

You can view real-time ozone concentrations on our website. The chart shows the hourly ozone concentrations at the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency’s eight ozone monitors.

You may sign up to receive air quality emails at EnviroFlash which will let you know if the Agency has issued an Air Quality Advisory.

ozone

Posted by joy.landry  On Jul 18, 2019 at 3:02 PM
  

Fireworks on Independence Day is credited to Founding Father John Adams who wrote to his wife Abigail that this day “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade…..and illuminations”.

The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency tends to see a spike in particulate matter (PM) at our monitors during July 4, however they are short-lived and often dissipate quickly. Fireworks create smoke and haze that is classified as a fine particle. These particles can be directly emitted from sources such as forest fires, or they can form when gases emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles react in the air.

The health-based standard for PM is for a 24-hour period and fireworks are not typically a concern for the general public because the occurrence is so quick. However, people with respiratory or cardiac issues are more sensitive and have potential to experience health effects from fireworks. These individuals should be aware that fireworks create fine particulates and consider staying indoors during and after fireworks displays.

Enjoy your local fireworks and if you’d like to see real-time PM readings, visit our website.

PM Chart

Posted by joy.landry  On Jun 28, 2019 at 1:59 PM
  
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