April 17, 2021

Art & Lifestyle:

County to Install Outdoor Air Quality Sensors

Air Quality

The St. Mary’s County Equity Task Force is launching the BreatheWell St. Mary’s initiative, an air quality monitoring and health education program.

Through BreatheWell St. Mary’s, outdoor air quality sensors will be installed across the county that will measure particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and other elements that may contribute to poor air quality and respiratory illnesses. Indoor sensors and air purifiers will also be used to promote occupational health in 24/7 first responder facilities and the county libraries.

Real-time outdoor data and recommended protective health actions will be noted on the St. Mary’s County Health Department Air Quality Dashboard. Additionally, schools will fly color coded flags that indicate air quality index and corresponding outdoor activity recommendations for students, as illustrated here or see below.

“Knowing the day-by-day air quality index in their local community is especially important for persons with asthma, long-term lung complications from COVID-19, or allergic illnesses,” said Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County health officer. “This daily value influences the kinds of outdoor activities recommended for these and other community members so they may better protect their lung health and avoid breathing problems.”

“This comprehensive air quality monitoring network will be an excellent tool for educators and their students to access and analyze local data — and explore how air quality impacts us all,” said Dr. J. Scott Smith, superintendent of St. Mary’s County Public Schools.

“This is another exciting initiative for St. Mary’s County,” said Sheriff Tim Cameron. “The BreatheWell St. Mary’s monitoring system will be a useful tool to continue to ensure that the working environments of our detention center and other professional workspaces meet and exceed standards for indoor air quality.”

BreatheWell St. Mary’s offers community members a tool to make decisions that protect their lung health and increases awareness of environmental factors that may be contributing to disparities in health and education. For more information, call 301-475-4330.

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