Despite tougher federal standards on ozone pollution, Georgians have been breathing-in healthier air this year.
Typically the biggest offender for exceeding ozone standards, the metro Atlanta region this year has cut its number of unhealthy air quality days in half. Other metro areas like Macon are also down. Augusta and Columbus both checked-in with zero unhealthy air days for the smog reporting season ending today.
Brian Carr with the Clean Air Campaign says a couple key factors made this happen. Milder and wetter weather, and fewer cars on the roads. Carr says that last point could easily be tied to the tough economy, with fewer people driving to a workplace.
"We’re catching a break, we're absolutely catching a break with this. There should have been theoretically if things were similar to how they were last year, at least double the number of exceedences, and that's even with that higher and more stringent standard."
In early 2008, federal environmental officials toughened its ozone standard for what’s considered healthy air. Since that time, Carr points out some regions outside of Atlanta have been put on a watch list by state environmental officials to monitor air quality.