That annual Cincinnati summer ritual, the smog alert, has been absent this year and last year as well. The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency's Monitoring and Analysis Supervisor, Anna Kelley, says the weather has played a big part in keeping down the pollution:
"We've had wonderful weather the past two summers, maybe not so much for swimming, but as far as keeping the air quality mixed and good, we've had some wonderful summers for that."
Smog is a term used to describe air pollution that is a result of the interaction of sunlight with certain chemicals in the atmosphere. The two primary pollutants in smog are ground-level ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM).
These pollutants come from a variety of sources, including:
Automobiles, trucks and buses; large industry and combustion sources such as utilities; small industry such as gasoline dispensing facilities and print shops; consumer products such as paints and cleaners; off-road engines such as aircraft, locomotives, construction equipment and lawn and garden equipment.
It's not that the pollutants aren't still there, they just haven't reached the levels and mixes the past two summers that would trigger a smog alert, again thanks in large part to weather related factors such as temperatures and winds.
Before this recent stretch, the last time there was a year without a smog alert was 2006. Kelley can't predict if the trend will continue, but she notes there are new rules taking effect next year that could decrease the amount of pollutants in the air. And if the weather continues to cooperate, she says it could lead to a reduction in smog alerts being called as well.