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Air Quality

To see current air quality conditions in New Jersey, visit the New Jersey's Air Monitoring Web Site.

Air pollution refers to any biological, physical, or chemical particle that can cause disease, death or damage to animals and plants. Pollutants come from many human activities such as factories, power plants, dry cleaners, cars, trains, airplanes, and buses, as well as from natural sources. Air quality measures how much pollution is in the air.
On average, adults breathe approximately 18 cubic meters of air each day, while children between the ages of 1 and 4 breathe approximately 12 cubic meters of air each day. If that air is contaminated, there is no way to avoid exposure to those pollutants. Furthermore, polluted air damages plants, animals, rivers, and lakes. This damages ecosystems and alters natural processes. It can also damage buildings and statues. Because air is ubiquitous, poor air quality affects everything around us.
Air pollutants affect health in a number of ways. These health effects range from coughing and shortness of breath to worsening chronic conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. Air pollution has also been linked to higher occurrence of heart attacks, strokes, and low birth weight. Two air pollutants of particular concern are ozone and PM2.5.

Ozone: Ground-level ozone, not to be confused with the atmosphere's protective ozone layer, is created by reactions between environmental pollutants and light and heat. Ozone is the main component of smog and is dangerous to health and the environment. The creation of ozone is facilitated by warm weather and sunshine; therefore, ozone levels are usually higher in the summer and in the mid-afternoon.

PM2.5: "PM" stands for "particulate matter," which is a mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. PM has many different components like acids, organic chemicals, metals, and soil. PM is measured in micrometers, so PM10 refers to particulate matter that has a diameter of 10 micrometers and PM2.5, particulate matter that has a 2.5 micrometer diameter. The important thing about PM is its size. The size of a particle is directly linked with its ability to harm human health; the smaller the particle, the easier it can pass through the nose and throat and enter the lungs. Once inhaled, PM can affect the heart and lungs, causing serious health consequences.

These and four other pollutants are categorized as the six "criteria pollutants" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. To learn more, click the following links:
Air pollution affects everyone, but certain people are more susceptible to its effects. Sensitive populations include people with lung or heart issues, young children, and older adults.
Everyone can do their part to reduce PM in the environment and contribute to healthier air. Consumers can:
  • Conserve energy by turning off lights and appliances when they're not in use;
  • Recycle paper, plastic, glass bottles, cardboard, and aluminum cans;
  • Shop with a canvas bag and avoid using paper and plastic bags;
  • Replace outdated wood burning stoves with EPA-certified stoves and fireplaces;
  • Plan efficient routes when using an automobile;
  • Keep vehicles properly maintained for maximum operating efficiency;
  • Use public transportation, ride a bike, or walk.

For more information on current air pollution control strategies and issues that will need to be addressed over the next several decades, visit the U.S. EPA website, Air Pollution: Current and Future Challenges.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is responsible for ensuring that New Jersey's air is clean.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopts National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for the common air pollutants, and the states have the primary responsibility to attain and maintain those standards. Air quality data from New Jersey's air monitoring sites can be accessed from www.njaqinow.net.

NJDEP manages air quality with ambient air monitoring, inventories of sources, emission reduction plans, rules, permits, stack testing, air quality modeling and risk assessment, vehicle testing, inspections and enforcement. More details on these and related activities to control air pollutants are available from NJDEP's Division of Air Quality.

The information provided above is from the Department of Health's NJSHAD web site (https://nj.gov/health/shad). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Mon, 23 July 2018 9:07:01 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: https://nj.gov/health/shad ".

Content updated: Wed, 23 May 2018 05:01:10 EDT