Virginia’s air quality improving, DEQ reports

    New monitoring data shows that air quality is improving in Virginia.

    The Department of Environmental Quality’s ozone monitoring results for 2018 shows that levels of fine particulate pollution have decreased by more than 40 percent, while nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide levels have similarly, “dropped significantly,” according to a DEQ news release.

    Though necessary in that it filters UV rays in the upper levels of the atmosphere, ozone is considered an air pollutant at the lower levels.

    “As a result of emission reductions associated with a variety of pollution control programs and positive changes in people’s behavior such as carpooling, air pollution in Virginia has decreased by more than 50 percent over the last 25 years,” DEQ Air and Renewable Energy Division Director Michael Dowd said in the release.

    There were six so-called “Code Orange” days in 2018, designations that indicate the amount of air pollution may be unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children or adults with respiratory illnesses.

    It’s a slight uptick from 2017, when there were only four Code Orange days, but a major improvement from 1993 and 1998, which sported 100 such days.