NOACA releases Air Quality Trends Report

On April 11th the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) issued its latest Air Quality Trends Report for the Northeast Ohio region. The report summarizes regional air quality data and analyzes greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from vehicles on the region’s roads. The document can be found on NOACA’s website:

     NOACA issues yearly reports to present information on air quality trends in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties for the six criteria pollutants: carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide. The federal Clean Air Act requires the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for these pollutants. The NAAQS are the maximum allowable concentrations for each pollutant whose intent is to protect people from adverse health impacts caused by excessive concentrations of pollution. The AQ Trends Report also includes sections on the link between transportation and air quality, as well as on climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Highlights of the 2022 report include:

     Ozone continues to be a major issue for the region. The U.S. EPA classifies an area based on the severity of their ozone concentrations. Northeast Ohio reached a higher nonattainment level of moderate, better than the previous AQ Trends Report. Nonattainment applies to an area having pollutant concentrations above federal air quality standards over an extended period. An area may also be considered nonattainment if pollution from that area contributes to poor air quality in another area. Areas meeting federal air quality standards are considered attainment areas.

     National Ambient Air Quality Standards relate to health outcomes and environmental quality measures. Ground-level ozone (O3) has fallen by 11% in Northeast Ohio since 2010, better than the national average of 5%. PM2.5 levels in Northeast Ohio have fallen by 12% since 2010, slightly below the national average of 13%.

     The U.S. EPA’s CO–Benefits Risk Assessment (COBRA) screening model estimated air pollution was responsible for more than 1,400 premature deaths, 4 instances of infant mortality, over 500 estimated heart attacks, and almost 13,000 asthma attacks in 2016. Overall, air pollution imposed nearly $15.5 billion in total health costs on Northeast Ohio. Mobile sources accounted for 15% of these costs, or about $2.3 billion.

     On-road transportation produced 8.13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, up nearly 46% from the previous report.Greenhouse gas emissions went up significantly. Although emissions rose, they remained 2.2% and 2.8% below 2017 and 2019 levels, respectively. The NOACA, Regional Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report, identifies baseline emissions levels, and sources and activities generating emissions in Northeast Ohio’s five counties (Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina). 

     The most effective means of improving air quality is using multimodal transportation. How can you help improve Northeast Ohio’s air quality? •Avoid unnecessary fuel consumption. Combine errands reduce fuel and save time. •Walk, bike, use public transportation or drive fuel-efficient vehicles. • Avoid idling your vehicle excessively. Turn off the key and be idle-free! • Keep your car, boat and other vehicles properly tuned.

     NOACA issues Air Quality Advisories when the agency predicts pollution levels will be unhealthy for sensitive groups, including children, the elderly and those with breathing difficulties. Residents can sign up to receive Air Quality Advisories. Additionally, NOACA manages its Gohio Commute platform to help individuals choose alternative transportation options to drive-alone trips.

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