June 15, 2024

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Here’s the DC region’s air quality report card

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Some areas of the DMV got failing scores for ground level ozone pollution.

WASHINGTON — It’s been a summer of unusual air pollution thanks to the Canadian wildfires.   The American Lung Association is tracking the air quality around the region in its 2023 State of the Air report. Most areas pass the air quality check when it comes to particle pollution, but the region gets lower scores when it comes to ozone air pollution. 

Particle pollution, or particulate matter (PM), refers to tiny solid or liquid drops suspended in the air.  It’s made up of numerous things such as dust, pollen, soil, sulfuric acid, ammonium nitrates and more.  When these particles are very small, they can get into our bodies and cause numerous health problems. 

Ozone is not emitted in the air, it’s “cooked” there. It’s created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC).   NOx and VOCs are emitted in the air by exhaust from cars, factories, paint, certain trees.  When combined with sunlight, NOx and VOCs undergo a chemical change to form ground level ozone. 

“The ‘State of the Air’ 2023 report finds that after decades of progress on cleaning up sources of air pollution, nearly 36% of Americans —119.6 million people — still live in places with failing grades for unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution,” the American Lung Association officials stated. 

RELATED: DC gets an F for ozone standards, according to new report

Here’s how the DMV scored:


Most counties in Virginia included in the report, received an “A”.  Areas with an A score  included Albemarle, Fauquier, and Prince Edward Counties.  

Areas in northern Virginia received slightly lower scores.  Loudoun county scored a C with three code orange days.  Fairfax scored a C with five code orange days.  Arlington scored a C with 4 code orange days. 

Albemarle: A
Fairfax:  C
Fauquier: A
Frederick: A
Loudoun: C 
Prince Edward: A 
Prince William: B
Stafford: B  


Of the 15 counties included in the Maryland report, four of them received an F, including Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Prince George’s and Hartford Counties. Baltimore County had the highest number of code orange ozone days in the state with 20 days recorded.  Anne Arundel had 10 ozone code orange days, Harford County had 19 code orange ozone days, and Prince George’s County had 12 code orange ozone days. 

Anne Arundel: F 
Baltimore: F
Baltimore City: C
Calvert: B 
Charles: B
Frederick: B
Montgomery: C 
Prince George’s: F 

PARTICLE AIR POLLUTION  (Particulate Matter PM) 

Albemarle: A
Fairfax:  B
Frederick: A
Loudoun: A

(17 counties reported data)   

Baltimore: B
Baltimore City: B
Harford: A
Howard: A
Montgomery: A
Prince George’s: A 

(11 counties reported data)

Scores are based on several factors including the number of code orange days.  The report is based on data from 2019, 2020, and 2021. 

RELATED: VERIFY | Yes, DC has had more Code Red days this year than any over the last decade

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2023-08-14 13:17:40

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