The quality of the air we breathe has a direct effect on our health – especially the health of children. Our transportation choices can make a big difference in air quality. In Central Florida, the emissions released from cars, trucks and boats, account for more than 60% of our air pollution. MetroPlan Orlando tracks the region’s air quality and works hard to create plans that include transportation options to help improve air quality.
The Clean Air Act
The Clean Air Act defines the Environmental Protection Agency’s responsibilities for protecting and improving the nation’s air quality. This federal law gives the EPA the authority to establish national air quality standards to protect public health and to regulate hazardous air pollutants.
In 2015, the EPA announced, stricter air quality standards. If an area is designated nonattainment – meaning not meeting the current standard – its leaders must put together a plan to improve air quality.
While Central Florida has enjoyed air quality within federal standards, we continue to monitor our progress. Metropolitan areas that don’t meet air quality standards risk losing valuable transportation dollars.
HOw Air QUality is Measured
Air quality is measured by looking at the ozone, the main component in urban smog. “Bad” ozone is created when nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) mix with heat and sunlight. Ozone is measured in parts per billion (ppb). Exhaust from motor vehicles is one of the highest contributors to ozone levels which is why MetroPlan Orlando tracks the region’s air quality and works hard to create plans that include transportation options that help improve air quality.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection monitors and records the air quality throughout the state. There are four monitoring sites across our region:
- Lake Isles Estates in Winter Park
- Skyview Drive in Orlando
- Osceola County Fire Station in Four Corners
- Seminole State College in Sanford
Each site monitors ozone attainment status. The Winter Park site also monitors PM 2.5 and NO2 levels.
The EPA indicates that attainment is determined by a three-year rolling average of the fourth highest ozone reading. The average must stay below the 70 parts per billion threshold. If that sounds confusing, don’t worry, we’ve figured it out for you. It means our region has to stay below the threshold, but there is some wiggle room. If there is a day when the air quality is particularly bad, it gets excluded from the measurement. Instead, we use the fourth highest day in a year. Then, that reading is averaged with the fourth highest readings of the two previous years. As long as that average is below 70 ppb, we are able to continue our planning practices as they are now. The two tables below show the ozone levels recorded at the site in Winter Park. The table on the left shows ten days in 2021 where ozone levels were the highest. The fourth highest day is highlighted. The table on the right shows the fourth highest days over the last four years. The value for 2021 is highlighted in yellow. The average of the last three years is highlighted in green.
MetroPlan Orlando updates these tables regularly and are included in the information packets at each Board meeting. A record of previous reports can be found in the archives
Air Quality Contingency Plan
In 2011, MetroPlan Orlando partnered with the University of Central Florida to create an Air Quality Contingency Plan for our three-county area. This plan identifies cost-effective ways to reduce emissions and improve air quality in our community. View the final report below.
MetroPlan Orlando has partnered with UCF again to refresh this plan and it is currently underway. The plan will be completed in 2023.
ARCHIVED Air Quality Reports
To view reports from previous years, please visit our Air Quality archive.