No matter where you live, you are affected by ambient air quality. Whether it is pollen or dust, pollution from automobiles, or smog caused by businesses or industry, ambient air can have a major impact on the health of residents.
Here in the Cleveland area, we live in a wide variety of settings, from downtown in the heart of the city to the suburban neighborhoods across the county. Cuyahoga County even boasts a number of rural areas where people live and/or work in an agricultural setting. With these diverse settings come a wide range of varying air quality issues.
Adults breathe approximately 20,000 times each day. During exercise or strenuous work, we breathe more often and draw air more deeply into our lungs. When we exercise heavily, we may breathe in up to ten times more air than we breathe when we are resting.
Poor air quality can quickly affect “sensitive” populations, including asthmatics and the elderly. Since their lungs are still developing, and because they breathe more rapidly and inhale more air pollution per pound of body weight than adults, children can also be more adversely affected by poor air quality than adults. Children playing outside on a hot and muggy summer afternoon may be exposed to high smog levels. These factors put children at an increased risk for respiratory problems.
The Clean Air Act, which was last amended in 1990, requires the USEPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (40 CFR part 50) for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment. The Clean Air Act identifies two types of national ambient air quality standards:
Primary standards provide public health protection, including protecting the health of “sensitive” populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly.
Secondary standards provide public welfare protection, including protection against decreased visibility and damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings.
The EPA has set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for six main pollutants, which are called “criteria” pollutants. They include carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide and particle pollution.
The Cleveland Department of Public Health – Division of Air Quality is the local air pollution control agency serving Cleveland and all of Cuyahoga County. The Cleveland Division of Air Quality (CDAQ) contracts with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and utilizes a grant from the U.S. EPA to help fund program activities.
The CDAQ is responsible for enforcement of the City of Cleveland Air Pollution Control Code and is the Ohio EPA Delegated Agent for air pollution control for all of Cuyahoga County. It ensures that regulated air pollutants are in compliance with local, state, and federal air regulations, and also monitors levels of specific air pollutants.
CDAQ’s three areas of concentration include enforcement, permitting, and monitoring.
Complaints regarding air pollution nuisances can be filed online by visiting the Cleveland Division of Air Quality’s web site. The complaint you file may very well be the agency’s first knowledge of a problem at a facility. Investigation of complaints can result in enforcement actions against offenders, but more importantly, can result in cleaner air for everyone.
After submitting your detailed complaint information, individuals reporting the situation will be contacted by a CDAQ enforcement investigator in a timely manner. When contacted by an investigator regarding a complaint, it is very important that as much detailed information as possible is provided to aid the investigation.
The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) – Air Quality Program is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the health risks and the environmental impacts of ground-level ozone and fine particle pollution. NOACA helps address local air quality concerns in many ways:
- Coordination of the Ozone Action Days Program, a voluntary, community-based effort to reduce air pollution on the hottest of summer days
- Providing access to near real-time monitored ozone data on the Air Now website and allowing users to access historical pollution data
- Keeping local governments informed about current and future regulations that may require additional local planning to curb air pollution
Resources & Links
American Lung Association
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) – Air Pollution
Cleveland Department of Public Health – Division of Air Quality
NOACA Air Quality Program
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency – Division of Air Pollution Control
Today’s Air Quality (AirNow.gov) – Get real-time air quality conditions and forecasts
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Weather Channel – weather.com