Air Quality

What is the indicator?

This indicator shows how many days per year were assessed to have air quality that was worse than “moderate” in Champaign County, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index Reports. The period of analysis is 1985-2015, and the U.S. EPA’s air quality ratings are as follows, from best to worst: “good,” “moderate,” “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” “unhealthy,” “very unhealthy,” and “hazardous.”[1]

 

What does the data say? Are there any notable trends?

 

Air Quality

 GoodModerateUnhealthy for Sensitive GroupsUnhealthyVery UnhealthyDays Rated Less than Moderate
1980265295005
1981318294004
1982300506006
198328760171018
198429957100010
1985317417007
1986314474004
1987298586107
198828360230023
198928371100010
1990330287007
199131041121013
1992330312002
1993344110000
199429256170017
199530647120012
1996326346006
1997325337007
199831835120012
199929348231024
2000313521001
2001288742002
200228075100010
2003297644004
2004310542002
2005279806006
2006310550000
2007296681001
2008325390000
2009310530000
2010148350000
2011233524004
2012307554004
2013329360000
2014316490000
2015285800000
2016302640000

 

While there has been no consistent year-to-year trend in the number of days per year rated to have air quality worse than moderate, the number of days in peak years has decreased since 2000. Where peak years before 2000 had between one and two dozen days with air quality worse than moderate (e.g., 1983, 18 days; 1988, 23 days; 1994, 17 days; 1999, 24 days), the year with the greatest number of days with air quality worse than moderate since 2000 was 2002, with 10 days.

There have been several years in the last decade that had no days with air quality worse than moderate, including the last four consecutive years; this did not occur at all before 2006. This, and the decrease in the number of days with air quality worse than moderate even in peak years, suggests that there has been some overall improvement in air quality, even without a clear year-to-year trend.

 

Why is this important?/Why did we include it in our set of indicators?

Air quality is important to human health. Consistently poor air quality can exacerbate existing  health problems, and can be especially damaging to vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and those with existing medical conditions.

 

Where did we get the data, and how often is it released?

This data is sourced from the U.S. EPA’s Air Quality Index Reports. The reports are released annually, and our period of analysis is 1980-2015. The Air Quality Index Report websites does caution that “[a]ir pollution levels measured at a particular monitoring site are not necessarily representative of the air quality for an entire county or urban area,” and recommends that data users do not compare air quality between different locations[2].

[1] Environmental Protection Agency. (1980-2016). Air Quality Index Reports. (Accessed 2 May 2017).

[2] Ibid.

 

 

Source: Environmental Protection Agency. (1980-2016). Air Quality Index Reports. <https://www3.epa.gov/airquality/airdata/ad_rep_aqi.html>. (Accessed 2 May 2017).