Drive-on surf-fishing (copy)

With the arrival of summer weather and ozone season, Delaware is recognizing Air Quality Awareness Week, reminding people people to check air-quality conditions and take steps to reduce impacts by keeping thermostats set to a higher temperature, not idling cars and refueling after dark.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control is joining national organizations to recognize Air Quality Awareness Week on May 3 to 7. The national theme for 2021 is “Healthy Air — Important for Everyone!”

The DNREC Division of Air Quality, which monitors and regulates the emissions to the air, encourages residents to learn more about the important role of air quality for the health of people and the Earth.

Delawareans can consult the Air Quality Index (AQI) to learn about current local conditions. Created under the Clean Air Act, the online resource from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors and reports on air quality each day.

In Delaware, air quality is rated as “good” for most days of the year. However, there are days when local air quality can pose health risks to sensitive populations, and the AQI offers up-to-the-minute data on when and where such days might be occur.

Air Quality Awareness Week — hosted by the U.S. EPA, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration — also serves as notice that with warmer weather comes the ozone season in Delaware. The EPA and its partner agencies, including DNREC, use the weeklong-recognition event to encourage people to check the AQI daily to find out when they might be most at risk of poor air quality from ozone in their location.

DNREC officials offered a few ways Delawareans can help reduce air pollution and help everyone breathe easier:

  • Drive less. Bike, walk, carpool, or take public transportation when you can.
  • Keep your vehicle on ozone-season alert. Limit engine idling, refuel only after dark, rely on clean transportation when possible. If you must drive, avoid congested times of day.
  • Conserve electricity. Keep your air conditioner thermostat set at a higher temperature (72 degrees), participate in energy-conservation programs and use major appliances less often when possible.
  • Be aware of Delaware’s open burning ban, which runs from May 1 through Sept. 30. All open burning is prohibited on Air Quality Action Days, when Delaware’s air quality has been forecast as unhealthy.

DNREC provides regular air quality forecasts and an air quality index to help the public know when to take precautions an ozone action day. Visit hde.gov/aqi to sign up for air quality email alerts.

Additionally, because air quality in Delaware is affected by pollution in the region, DNREC Division of Air Quality also maintains the Delaware Air Quality Monitoring Network throughout the state and partners with the Air Quality Partnership of Delaware.

Another DNREC partner for improving air quality is the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, which addresses numerous clean air topics, including major air pollutants and their health impacts; global warming; industrial sources of pollution; state and local implementation of clean air programs; and clean transportation spanning vehicles, engines and fuels.