NOTE TO LOCAL NEWS MEDIA: Please help communicate this urgent pollution prevention message to Dane County area residents. Fine particle pollution levels could potentially exceed the federal health standard later this afternoon, this evening and tomorrow morning.
The Dane County Clean Air Coalition (CAC) today announced the first wintertime Clean Air Action Day for fine particle pollution effective immediately through noon tomorrow. The announced Clean Air Action Day was triggered by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issuance this morning of an Air Quality Watch for all Wisconsin counties. According to DNR meteorologists, warm temperatures and light winds has created a temperature inversion across the entire state formed by warm air rising over cold air resulting in ideal conditions for trapping fine particles and allowing them to build to potentially unhealthy levels.
A Clean Air Action Day lets people know that fine particles could reach an unhealthy level especially for children, older adults, people with asthma or heart disease and adults engaged in vigorous outdoor activities. Clean Air Action Days also remind people of simple actions they can take to improve the air we all breathe.
“Clean Air Action Days are a voluntary way for government agencies, businesses and citizens in Dane County to do their share for cleaner air,” said Dave Merritt, Project Coordinator of the CAC. These activities include:
- Reduce vehicle travel by carpooling, taking the bus, delaying trips, or biking or walking. If you need to use your car please reduce speed and limit idling.
- Conserve energy - Reduce energy consumption by turning off electrical devices when not in use and turn down the thermostat.
- Open burning and use of burn barrels should be delayed. Avoid use of outdoor wood burning boilers and fireplaces. If you do burn wood, build small hot fires with dry seasoned wood.
In December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated six Wisconsin counties, including Dane and Columbia counties, as “non-attainment areas” under a more stringent federal fine particle health-based standard. Fine particles are very small particles with diameters less than 2.5 microns (about 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair). Major contributors to fine particle pollution include trucks, passenger cars, off-road equipment, electric power generation, open burning and agricultural sources. Due to their small size, fine particles are easily inhaled and are deeply deposited into the lungs, which can aggravate and even cause serious health problems such as heart and lung disease. On a Clean Air Action Day Action Day, residents are advised to monitor their health and to consult their physician if they have any health-related concerns.