RALEIGH – Air in the Research Triangle has been almost completely free from harmful impacts of ozone this summer. That’s according to a new analysis of state data from the John Locke Foundation.
Click here to view Dr. Roy Cordato discussing Triangle ozone trends.
“The Triangle is doing exceptionally well this year,” said Dr. Roy Cordato, JLF vice president for research and resident scholar. “Last year, at this time, the Triangle had experienced six high-ozone readings at monitors throughout the region. This year, we’re looking at two for the entire Triangle area.”
The news is even better for Wake County, according to Cordato’s analysis. “Wake County has had no high-ozone readings this year,” he said. “This is the most populated county in the Triangle, and it has had no high-ozone days, despite what some newspaper reports have suggested.”
Fears about ozone might be playing a larger role than ozone itself on days when the temperature hits high marks, Cordato said. “It’s interesting that people get a psychological perspective and don’t look at the reality,” he said. “The fact is that very warm temperatures will bring on respiratory problems for some people. What you find is that some people will blame those respiratory problems on high ozone – even when the ozone isn’t high.
“Very often, we’ve seen days predicted to have high ozone, and it turned out that the prediction did not come true,” he added. “That’s happened on several days this season. The fact is that people are probably experiencing respiratory problems caused by high heat and humidity, not the ozone. It’s actually been quite low.”
North Carolina has registered just 48 high-ozone readings at monitors across the state this year, Cordato said. “That’s less than one reading per monitor,” he said. “This time last year, we had 70 readings – which was very low in and of itself. Very often we get 150 high readings by this time. It’s a considerable drop from last year.”
The N.C. Division of Air Quality started issuing daily ozone forecasts April 30. The division issues those forecasts throughout the summer ozone season. Those forecasts will continue for several more weeks. But Cordato anticipates no significant change in the ozone trends this year.
“Statewide, we’ve been seeing a trend now for the last four years of steadily declining – really record-low ozone seasons,” Cordato said. “It looks like this year is going to be even better than last year, which was a very good year. It’s possible 2006 will be better than 2004, which was the lowest on record.”
For more information, please contact Dr. Roy Cordato at (919) 828-3876 or [email protected]. To arrange an interview, contact JLF communications director Mitch Kokai at (919) 306-8736 or [email protected]