Air Quality Alert: When, Where, Why?

Ozone air pollution graphic by MGN.
By  | 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - If haze, smog, or ozone bother you, be forewarned: all of East Tennessee is in an Air Quality Alert for Thursday.

Specifically, the AirNow program of the Environmental Protection Agency, combined with data from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, put out a Code Orange for the whole area.

The AQI (Air Quality Index) is 101 on the scale from 0-500. While that may not sound terrible, it's still reason for action.

If you have children, or come from a sensitive respiratory group (think Asthma or COPD), you'll want to limit exposure to the pollutants through Friday night. Same thing goes for some older adults.

The American Lung Association recently named Knoxville/Sevierville/Morristown as the 25th worst city in America for year-round air pollution, in its 2019 survey. Why is our area prone to air pollution, when there are so many trees, and so many river?

Well the ridge-valley system of the Appalachian Mountains traps air on hot days, and all the nasty particulate matter has nowhere to go, with a 'lid' over the top of the mountains.

While these Code Orange Days aren't that uncommon, they're certainly less frequent than they used to be.

The blog WalletWyse just named Knoxville as the most improved city in America, for air quality. In the last few years, things have gotten better. To be exact, between 2004-2018, particle pollution made a 43% decrease!