Air Quality | WABE 90.1 FM

Air Quality

Alison Guillory / WABE

One of Georgia’s most notorious air monitoring stations is on top of Fire Station Number 8 in northwest Atlanta. It's notorious because it consistently ranks among the worst in the state in levels of air pollution.    

“Those in EPD who are familiar with air quality issues are very familiar with this monitor,” said Rich McDonald, with the Environmental Protection Division.

Atlanta skyline in smog.
Cwolfsheep /

Atlanta has struggled to meet federal limits on the pollution that causes smog, and those standards may get tougher. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets limits on ground-level ozone, also known as smog, and the agency has a court-ordered deadline to release a new standard on Thursday.

Smog forms when cars, factories and power plants release chemicals, that than then react with sunlight. Health and environmental advocacy groups support reducing smog levels, while some business groups argue that tougher regulations are too expensive.

Payton Chung /

Georgia Commute Options, a program funded by the Georgia Department of Transportation, issued a “Code Orange” smog alert during the first week in August. This is metro Atlanta’s fourth “Code Orange” warning for the 2015 smog season. 

When a “Code Orange” smog alert is issued, sensitive groups, including older adults, children and those who suffer heart or lung conditions are affected by the unhealthy air quality. 

Copyright University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Air pollution in the summer is different from air pollution in the winter, but winter pollution hasn’t been studied as much. Now a team of scientists is working to learn more about it: Where it comes from, where it goes and how it affects health.

Cities have plumes of pollution that flow downwind, just like plumes of smoke coming out of chimneys, only way bigger. But that pollution comes from different sources and takes different forms, depending on the season.

Fermicat /

Those wanting a quicker decision on air quality permits can now pay a fee to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

The new process allows those seeking air quality permits to pay a fee from as low as $1,000 up to $40,000 depending on difficulty of the review. In exchange for the fees, regulators will ensure an expedited review of the requests. Eric Cornwell is a manager with the division’s air protection branch.

Testing Atlanta's Air

Aug 6, 2012
Myke Johns

Each day, alongside the weather forecast, we report the Air Quality Index. It’s a forecast that looks at air pollutants and rates our air quality on a colored scale.

But where does this information come from and what can we do with it? WABE’s Myke Johns paid a visit to the offices of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Environmental Protection Division and the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic to find out more.

A new American Lung Association report says the air quality in the U.S. and metro Atlanta is getting better. However, Atlanta continues to lag behind many other cities.

The report ranked the metropolitan area the 25th worst for the number of high ozone days. But American Lung Association state director June Dean says the ranking is slightly better than last year.

“We know that  improving and strengthening the Clean Air Act is making a difference for us, and here’s the proof.”