Outdoors

Wake County ozone fails clean air test

Posted April 25, 2012 5:05 p.m. EDT
Updated April 26, 2012 10:01 a.m. EDT

— A report issued Wednesday by the American Lung Association gave a failing grade to air quality in Wake County. Cumberland and Durham counties earned just a "C," for the number of high ozone days, and only one North Carolina county, Swain, got an A.

The lung association looked at ozone, short- and long-term pollution and the presence of chronic diseases like emphysema, asthma and diabetes to come up with grades for each county in the nation.

While particle pollution is relatively low in North Carolina, the presence of ozone dropped the grades for some of the more populous counties.

Ozone, an odorless, invisible gas, results when certain gases combine with heat and sunlight in the atmosphere.

Those who chose to enjoy Wednesday outdoors were not fazed by the news. Jessie Prater and her 3-year-old son were catching butterflies at Raleigh's Pullen Park. "I'm not alarmed at all," Prater said.

Zail Smith, a student on the campus of North Carolina State University, said, "I guess it's surprising. It tells me there's a lot of stuff I don't know, even though it's nice out."

"There's no bad smells or anything, nothing that I really notice," said fellow student Andrew Domanski.

Officials with the state Division of Air Quality said the report is instructive for the information it provides about trends over time.

Nationwide and in the Triangle, air quality is getting better overall. Even in big cities with the worst air, residents are breathing better than they have in the past.