84th AMS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, 13 January 2004: 2:30 PM
From raw air quality data to the nightly news: an overview of how EPA’s AIRNow program operates
Room 612
Timothy S. Dye, Sonoma Technology, Inc., Petaluma, CA; and A. C. Chan, C. B. Anderson, D. E. Strohm, R. A. Wayland, and J. E. White
Poster PDF (807.2 kB)
Air pollution continues to be a public health concern with childhood asthma rates on the rise and pollution trends no longer showing a decrease. Similar to weather forecasting, communicating real-time and forecasted air quality lets the public take preventive action to reduce their exposure to unhealthy air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed the AIRNow program to collect real-time air quality measurements and forecasts and to communicate this information to the public via the Internet and media outlets. Since 1997, AIRNow has grown from a small regional program to a nationwide system (including Canada) that assembles hourly ozone and particulate matter data and provides real-time maps which vividly show how air pollution forms and moves through a region. These maps are updated each hour at www.epa.gov/airnow and are available from media outlets such as The Weather Channel. In addition to air quality maps, AIRNow distributes to the media and public air quality forecasts issued by state and local agencies for over 275 cities.

This paper provides an overview of the components that make this voluntary program successful. This includes working effectively with over 100 air quality agencies who supply hourly air quality data and issue air quality forecasts, developing software and database systems to quality control/process the data, and working with media outlets to distribute this air quality information. Examples of how the media uses AIRNow data and information will also be shown.

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