WBEZ | ozone http://www.wbez.org/tags/ozone Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en New flag program to promote air quality in the Chicago area http://www.wbez.org/news/new-flag-program-promote-air-quality-chicago-area-106911 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F90211484&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7223_IMG_1509-scr.jpg" style="height: 240px; width: 375px; float: left;" title="Kids from the Chicago Academy for Global Citizenship hold the color-coded flags to indicate air quality (IEPA)." />An airplane pulled out of Midway and over the Chicago Academy for Global Citizenship while a group of kids raised a yellow flag Tuesday to signify that the air is moderately clean, but not perfect. The flag-raising signaled the launch of a program created by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and Illinois Partners for Clean Air to involve school kids in pollution monitoring.</p><p>The IEPA already monitors and color-codes a <a href="http://www.epa.state.il.us/air/aqi/">daily air quality index</a> for the greater Chicago area, but IEPA director Lisa Bonnett says she wants to involve the public more closely in air quality monitoring.</p><p>&ldquo;All of us can do our part,&rdquo; Bonnett said, &ldquo;and that&rsquo;s how you really get those improvements to air quality.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Although air pollution in the Chicago area has decreased in recent decades, Cook County this year got <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/cook-countys-air-quality-gets-f-american-lung-association-106828">a failing grade for air quality from the American Lung Association</a>. Meanwhile, says Bonnett, standards for air pollutants have been lowered as regulators discover or confirm new health risks from poor air quality.</p><p>Weather is the primary cause of daily fluctuations in air quality; hot, stagnant summer days mean Chicago&rsquo;s smog sticks around in the area, and the direction of the wind or a storm can also lead to higher-air pollution days.</p><p>&ldquo;The weather&rsquo;s been a challenge over the last few years,&rdquo; said Bonnett, referring to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/what%E2%80%99s-causing-record-low-levels-lake-michigan-105262">drought</a>, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/flooding-drought-year-106171">flooding </a>and heat waves that have all stricken the region lately.</p><p>IEPA says Chicagoans can contribute to cleaner air over the long term by taking public transportation and switching to energy-efficient lighting and appliance options. And the USEPA is taking public comments on a <a href="http://www.epa.gov/otaq/tier3.htm">new proposed regulation</a> for vehicle emissions that would hold the whole country to a much tighter standard beginning in 2017.</p><p>For now, any school in the greater Chicago area can request air quality flags.</p><p><em>Lewis Wallace is a Pritzker Journalism Fellow at WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants">@lewispants</a></em>.</p><p><strong>Map of commercial and industrial air pollution sources</strong></p><p><a name="map"></a>A USEPA map provides data from 2008 on yearly emissions of six key pollutants from major contributors like landfills, airports and manufacturing plants. Find out more about air pollution in your area on <a href="http://www.epa.gov/air/emissions/where.htm">USEPA&#39;s website</a>.</p><div id="map-canvas">&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 30 Apr 2013 16:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-flag-program-promote-air-quality-chicago-area-106911 Cook County's air quality gets an 'F' from the American Lung Association http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/cook-countys-air-quality-gets-f-american-lung-association-106828 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/yooperann/5098058893/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicago%20air.jpg" style="height: 458px; width: 610px;" title="(Courtesy Ann Fisher via Flickr)" /></a><br />Spring weather can be a breath of fresh air for many Chicagoans, but a foul forecast for air quality in Cook County is a reminder that high pollution and asthma rates persist in many of the nation&rsquo;s large urban areas.</p><p>The American Lung Association released its annual &ldquo;State of the Air&rdquo; report Wednesday, and while our air is cleaner than it was a decade ago, Cook County <a href="http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/states/illinois/cook-17031.html">received Fs across the board</a>.</p><p>Compiling data from states, tribes and federal agencies, the ALA report ranked the nation&rsquo;s cities and counties according to their levels of ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution.</p><p>Chicago ranked 16&nbsp;in the nation for short-term particle pollution. Central and Southern Californian metros dominated the <a href="http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/city-rankings/most-polluted-cities.html">report&rsquo;s &ldquo;Most Polluted Cities&rdquo; rankings across all three categories</a>.</p><p><a href="http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/states/illinois/lake-17097.html">Lake County also failed</a>, but the ALA gave Bs to Kane, DuPage, McHenry and Will counties.</p><p>Four in 10 Americans (131.8 million people) live in counties that had unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution between 2009 and 2011.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/qa-kim-wasserman-little-villages-coal-crusader-106742">As the city shuts down coal plants</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/does-electricity-aggregation-do-enough-renewable-energy-106760">cuts coal from its power supply</a>, future reports could give Cook County a sunnier outlook. But the region&rsquo;s high poverty rate means a minority of its residents shoulder a greater share of the burden.</p><p>&ldquo;No one should be surprised by the grade Cook Country was given, but we ought to be alarmed,&rdquo; said Matthew Siemer, program and development manager for <a href="http://mobilecarechicago.org/">the Mobile C.A.R.E. foundation</a>.</p><p>His&nbsp;group runs&nbsp;a mobile asthma clinic that treats poor and uninsured patients with respiratory problems.</p><p>&ldquo;Respiratory illnesses like asthma and COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], which have been linked to poor air quality, affect 25 percent of low-income residents. These diseases are costly, debilitating, and can even fatal when they aren&rsquo;t regularly treated.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s not the first time the area has flunked an ALA examination. In January the organization said <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/study-gives-illinois-fs-tobacco-prevention-and-support-quitting-smoking-104978">Illinois needed to invest more to reduce tobacco consumption</a>. They gave the state Fs for tobacco prevention and support for smokers trying to quit. Cook County <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2012/04/26/cook_county_air_quality_gets_an_f.php">received an F in last year&#39;s &quot;State of the Air&quot; report, too</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cook-air-quality.jpg" title="The number of high-ozone days in Chicago has fallen over the years, but still exceeds safety standards. (Courtesy American Lung Association)" /></div></p> Wed, 24 Apr 2013 16:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/cook-countys-air-quality-gets-f-american-lung-association-106828 Greenpeace campaigns for climate-friendlier refrigeration technologies http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/greenpeace-campaigns-climate-friendlier-refrigeration-technologies <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/51789815.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Amy Larkin, the director of <a href="http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/Solutions/">Greenpeace Solutions</a> and Claudette Juska, a research specialist at <a href="http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/">Greenpeace</a>, join us to discuss their campaign to encourage companies like Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola to utilize climate-friendlier refrigeration technologies.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 16 Nov 2010 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/greenpeace-campaigns-climate-friendlier-refrigeration-technologies