| Things to think about
A significant portion of New Jersey’s air pollution is emitted
in other states and blows into our state. Changes in those out-of-state
emissions are not within the direct control of our citizens
or our state government. However, New Jersey has been a leader
in trying to coordinate regional air pollution control efforts.
Ozone levels are strongly
affected by weather conditions. Hot, sunny, windless days tend
to exacerbate the ozone problem. The relatively cool summer
of 1998 kept ozone levels down, as reflected in the infrequent
number of days where ozone levels exceeded the health standard.
This does not, however, necessarily indicate that the presence
of air pollutants declined in 1998.
See the Glossary for additional information on particulate matter
and the Technical Appendix for a discussion on the relationship
between the targets and the indicator.
Clean air to
breathe is one of life’s absolute necessities. Although New
Jersey’s air quality has improved significantly, it is still
considered among the worst in the country for ground-level ozone.
Ground-level ozone is the main component of smog, a chronic
air quality problem with serious health effects in our state.
"Particulate matter" (PM) are tiny particles of pollution that
can lodge in people’s lungs and create respiratory problems.
Carbon monoxide is a hazardous substance (deadly at high concentrations)
produced when fossil fuels are burned for energy and especially
when gasoline is burned in cars.
We pay for poor
air quality in many ways. We pay to treat the illnesses it causes.
Absenteeism caused by air pollution impacts school children
and workers. Neighborhoods lose as property values fall in places
where the air is bad. Workers and businesses lose when limits
are imposed on new development because federal air quality standards
are not met. Businesses lose also if shoppers and tourists are
warned to stay indoors because of poor air quality. Air pollution
can also have other economic effects such as crop damage or
degradation of art, statues, buildings, and other materials.
Poor air quality
is a generally recognized public health threat. It is linked
to significant long- and short-term health problems. These can
include an increased incidence of asthma attacks, heart disease,
and cancer risk. Air pollution can be detrimental to wildlife
and ecosystems in the same way. In addition, contaminants can
work their way up the food chain in ever-higher concentrations
and interfere with natural systems. We have a good understanding
that many of the factors increasing air pollution, such as cars
traveling on new roads and development, also have severe impacts
on ecosystems due to habitat loss.
air quality problems force people to stay indoors, preventing
recreation and social activities. Some forms of air pollution
also cause a loss of visibility or can cause unpleasant odors
that undermine our quality of life. Air pollution can be concentrated
in low-income and minority areas and, if so, represents an inequity
in our society.
data, based on the number of days health standards were exceeded,
do not take into account changing air quality standards for
particulates and ozone. This indicator does not measure all
problem air pollutants.
Source: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection