A Code Orange alert means the air is unhealthy for sensitive groups, like older adults, children and those who suffer from heart or lung conditions (including asthma). This is metro Atlanta’s third Code Orange for the 2015 smog season.
Smog alerts are color-coded based on the Air Quality Index which categorizes air quality in Green, Yellow, Orange, Red and Purple based on concentration of pollutants. Georgia Commute Options provides smog alerts on days when there’s a forecast for air pollution to reach unhealthy concentration levels — Code Orange or higher. Metro Atlanta residents can subscribe to these at www.GaCommuteOptions.com. In 2014, there were 11 smog alerts — nine Code Orange alerts and two Code Purple (very unhealthy) alerts.
How can one help prevent smog alerts?
There are three main types of pollution: Nitrogen Oxides (NOXs), particulate matter/particle pollution, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These are all mostly man-made and come from vehicle emissions. When VOCs and NOXs are combined with heat and sunlight (mostly during the summer), it creates ground-level ozone. When ground-level ozone is mixed with particulate matter, it creates smog. The majority of air pollution comes from tailpipes, so when one chooses to share the ride, one is helping everyone breathe a little easier.
Georgia Commute Options, a program funded by the Georgia Department of Transportation, helps commuters, employers and property managers take advantage of alternatives to driving alone to and from work. Georgia Commute Options reports that every day in metro Atlanta, the use of commute alternatives such as carpooling and transit results in 1.1 million vehicle miles not traveled and 550 tons of pollution kept out of the air.