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AIRNow: The Power of Partnerships

2010 March 23

Earlier today, I posted a picture of a guy named Bill Ryan to EPA’s AIRNow Facebook page. Bill teaches air quality forecasting at Penn State University, and he’s been a big supporter over the years as EPA has worked to share air quality information with people all across the United States. Last week, we named him the 2010 AIRNow Partner of the Year.

As I was uploading Bill’s picture, it struck me: the great partnerships we have in the AIRNow program, combined with today’s technology, have created powerful tools for letting all of us know what we’re breathing right now – and what tomorrow’s air quality could mean for us.

EPA launched nearly 12 years ago, building off a mapping program started by EPA’s New England office to share real-time information about ozone pollution. As technology and our partnerships have expanded, so have the ways you find out about air quality where you live.

Today, in the Research Triangle, N.C., area where I work, I can get air quality forecasts pretty much any way you can imagine: on the AIRNow Web site, on local TV, from a state telephone hotline, in my local newspaper, or through EnviroFlash e-mails or tweets. If ozone or particle pollution levels are high, I can quickly find out how I can protect my health. And I can get a list of simple steps to take to help improve air quality where I live.

So can you! AIRNow forcasts and real-time data are available for more than 300 cities across the country. The engine behind this info is powered by more than 170 state, local and federal partners – all committed to sharing monitoring data and information so you can make decisions that affect your daily lives.

Every day, all year, our partner agencies feed real-time air quality data and forecasts to the AIRNow system. We send it back out to weather service providers and to national media such as the Weather Channel and USA Today. The National Weather Service uses the data in the air quality models it makes available to state and local forecasters, like Bill Ryan, who start the process all over again.

My local air quality forecast for Tuesday is Code Green – or good – for both ozone and particle pollution. What’s yours?

About the author: Alison Davis is a Sr. Advisor for Public Affairs in EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards. This blog is part of an ongoing series about the EPA’s efforts toward the Open Government Directive that lays out the Obama Administration’s commitment to Open Government and the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. refi permalink
    March 24, 2010

    great information

  2. Al Bannet permalink
    March 24, 2010

    If anything good could possibly have been attributed to the terrorist attack on 9/11, it might be that when all the planes were ordered to land all across the USA, people remarked at how suddenly the air became so much fresher and pleasant to breathe. But since we cannot just ground all jet planes forever, the next best thing would be to invent a filter to scrub each and every jet exhaust so there are zero toxic emmissions; the same for all coal fired power plants. Modern technology can do it, or has it already done so, but corporations don’t want the added expense?!

  3. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    March 26, 2010

    These partnerships for clean air are important to making sure that air quality information gets to the public in a timely way. This is a first step and creating partnerships for clean air must continue to grow and expand. Partnerships like this is probably how we will get pollution free or significantly reduced pollution aviation fuels. There is no question that the area of aviation fuels has not been given nearly the attention that gasoline and diesel have but work needs to begin both on equipment like the scrubbers in the jet and propeller prop engines and with the fuels themselves. Other EPA partnerships dealing with different kinds of diesel fuel vehicles seem to be successful. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  4. wade harter permalink
    March 29, 2010

    reply to Al Bannet. more efficient filters / scrubbers can be developed but each reduces efficiency as well as possible other trade offs. It is not that corporations want the extra expense because corporations merely pass along manufacturing / marketing to the public. it is us consumers that are unwilling to pay the extra for environmental friendly products when those cheap imports are available. As to scrubbers on jet engines there has been significant research on developing engines which eject ions using magnetic field technology for propulsion. these are clean engines.

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