Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Davidson and Catawba colleges check on our air quality

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 10:35 AM

Did you know that the U.S. Environmental Agency only keeps tabs on the local air quality in Mecklenburg and Rowan counties? Well, now you do. And, now, two area colleges — Davidson and Catawba — are joining forces this summer to find out how the air quality's doing in seven counties in North and South Carolina this summer ... including Mecklenburg and Rowan.

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Davidson College and the Center for the Environment at Catawba College are partnering on a summer air monitoring program to measure ozone and nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels in seven Piedmont counties.

Dr. Cindy Hauser, associate professor of chemistry at Davidson, will analyze the data collected for cross comparison. Two of her students will be working with June McDowell, an air quality intern with the Center for the Environment, to deliver and collect the tubes with filters used for monitoring.

Rowan and Mecklenburg are the only counties in the program currently monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency. The American Lung Association’s 2011 State of the Air Report ranked Rowan as the 17th worst county in the nation for ozone pollution of counties with monitor collecting data. Mecklenburg tied with two other counties for the 21st place ranking.

The Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury region ranked 10th in the nation for having the worst ozone levels and was the only region in the East to make the top 10.

Prof. Hauser said residents of surrounding counties may think their air quality is fine because they don’t know how they rank. “But the fact of the matter is they don’t know,” she said. “To assume they’re fine is probably not safe considering the numbers in the other areas.”

Read the entire article, by David Boraks, here.

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