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Americans Encouraged To Check Air Quality Forecasts

Release Date: 06/29/2005
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Contact: John Millett, 202-564-4355 /

(Washington, D.C.-June 29, 2005) With summer vacations in full swing, Americans are encouraged to check local air quality forecasts during Air Quality Awareness Days (June 29-July 1) and year-round as they plan their daily activities. Recently improved forecasting by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service (NOAA) and EPA makes air quality forecasts more available to more people than ever before.

"Improving air quality forecasting abilities helps cities across the country provide their citizens the most accurate, up-to-date air quality predictions available," said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of NOAA's National Weather Service. "These forecasts help millions of people protect their health on days when ozone levels are high."
    Jeff Holmstead, EPA's assistant administrator for air and radiation, said "summer marks the heart of the ozone season. Whether living in a city, suburb or in the country, air quality forecast information can help all Americans make important health decisions.''

    Ozone pollution, also known as ground-level ozone or "smog," forms when pollutants from sources such as cars, power plants and industries "cook" in the sun. Ozone pollution can aggravate respiratory diseases, including asthma, and can reduce lung function.

    Even healthy people can have symptoms related to ozone exposure, so everyone should pay attention to air quality forecasts. State and local agencies issue official next-day air quality forecasts for more than 300 communities across the United States. These forecasts let citizens know what kind of air quality to expect the next day in their community.

    Earlier this month, NOAA expanded its air quality forecast guidance, already used in the northeastern United States, to include the South and much of the Plains. The new forecast capability is being built by a team of NOAA and EPA scientists who develop, test and implement improvements in the science of air quality forecasting for real-time predictions. The capability, which now covers more than half the U.S. population, will expand over the next decade to provide nationwide coverage, adding forecast information for particle pollution.

    NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) forecast models drive simulations of atmospheric chemical conditions using pollutant emissions and monitoring data provided by the EPA. Twice daily, supercomputers operated by NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction produce predictions of ground-level ozone forecasts available on NWS and EPA data servers.
      Air quality forecasts are available online at: and The AIRNow site also features additional health and safety information along with a compilation of air quality alerts issued by state and local air quality forecasters.
        EPA sets national air quality standards for ozone and other common air pollutants as part of its mission to protect public health and the environment. EPA established the Air Quality Index (AQI) to inform the public about local air quality levels.
          NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA's National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.
            The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.

            More information about the joint EPA and NOAA air quality forecasts are online at: