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Another Historic Year for Good Air Quality in Virginia

Sept. 28, 2020


Statewide air quality continues record-breaking trend

RICHMOND, VA— The official 2020 ozone pollution forecasting season has come to an end and the news, just like the Commonwealth’s air, is good. Clean air in Virginia has once again reached historic levels, with 34 more “good” air quality days this year than the previous record set in 2017.

No unhealthy air quality readings were recorded at 22 of Virginia’s 23 ozone pollution monitors maintained by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Loudoun County experienced only one day with an average ozone concentration greater than the 70 parts per billion national standard that can mean unhealthy conditions for children, the elderly and those with heart or lung conditions.

Ground-level ozone is a colorless gas that forms when chemicals in the atmosphere react on hot, sunny days. The main sources of ozone are motor vehicle exhaust, power plants, industrial emissions and solvents. DEQ issues daily ozone and particle pollution forecasts using the Air Quality Index (AQI), a standardized color-coded system that helps differentiate the potential health impacts of air pollution. The AQI ranges from green (“good”) to purple (“hazardous”).

“For too many years, we experienced extreme air pollution but through the development of more stringent pollution regulations and controls, I’m happy to say that ozone pollution isn’t the threat it used to be,” said DEQ Director David Paylor. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get here, but we now consider ozone another environmental success story similar to how we effectively controlled acid rain. We will stay vigilant and maintain these important advances for Virginia’s environment as we turn our attention to the next challenge, controlling greenhouse gas emissions.”

“This year we experienced 50 percent more days with ‘good’ air quality than we’ve seen during the previous five years,” said Air and Renewable Energy Division Director Michael Dowd. “The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many drivers staying off the road and that has had an effect on Virginia’s low ozone readings; however, the low levels of pollution we are seeing this year are certainly in line with the long-term trend of lower ozone concentrations.”

Current regional air quality conditions and forecasts are available on DEQ’s website.




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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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