Pollutants We Monitor

 Lake Michigan Shoreline

Lake Michigan Shoreline

Air quality is an important issue for many people, including business professionals and private citizens, yet air quality is difficult to touch, see, taste or smell. We currently monitor two pollutants--ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). It is very important for the public to be aware of air quality, since both of these pollutants can trigger health and environmental problems, such as asthma attacks and even crop damage. Ground-level ozone forms as a result of emissions reacting with the sun during the spring and summer (May-September). Particulate matter can be made up of hundreds of different chemicals that come from a wide variety of sources or be emitted directly from a source, such as a smokestack. It can be elevated at any time during the year, but levels are usually highest during the summer and winter.

On days when there is expected to be enough ozone or fine particulate matter in the air that people who are sensitive to it might start to experience symptoms, air quality meteorologists declare Clean Air Action Days (see Forecasting Action Days). On these days, the West Michigan Clean Air Coalition encourages everyone to participate in a voluntary action reduce air pollution levels, such as waiting until 6 pm to mow or refuel your car, to carpool or take the bus. For more ideas on what you can do to reduce air pollution levels, or for ways that you can stay informed about air quality, please visit our Take Action page.