BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore is no longer the second smoggiest city in the country—and it means the air we all breathe is a lot cleaner than it used to be.

Alex DeMetrick has more.

It’s definitely good news, especially when you consider what we all used to be breathing in.

We all know what a smoggy day looks like, but it’s what you can’t see that can hurt you. Ground level ozone is in that haze—so much so, Baltimore was under federal orders to reduce it. And it has.

“The Baltimore-Washington area used to be one of the worst areas in the country, second only to the Los Angeles area—so the fact that we have many good days is a big improvement,” said Dr. Gregory Diette, a pulmonologist at Johns Hopkins.

Major sources of ozone come from burning gasoline and burning coal to make electric power, but it takes heat to really fire it up. The last brutally hot summer was three years ago and when air pollution hit codes orange and red…

“People complaining of sinus headaches, congestion, nose and eyes are burning and the asthmatics, they have to increase their medicine,” said Dr. John Bacon, GBMA Allergy & Immunology.

It’s a major reason Baltimore opens cooling centers.

“We have asthma and we don’t have air,” said one woman.

The past few summers have been cooler than normal and cleaner burning power plants, along with less pollution from cars has helped Baltimore meet the federal ozone standard.

“At the present allowable levels, people are still getting sick, ending up in the emergency room, ending up in the hospital and dying from ozone,” Diette said.

Which means ozone levels have to get still lower—and when really hot weather hits, ozone will likely climb, as well.

The biggest factor now driving Maryland’s smog is air pollution carried by winds from the Ohio Valley.


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