Air Quality Continues to Improve in Central Ohio

December 13, 2016

Now that the 2016 ozone season has come to a close, MORPC released its annual report. According to the report's findings, air quality continues to improve in the region.

There were ten ozone exceedances in the 2016 season compared to only three in 2015.  However under the previous standard, the region would have only experienced three exceedances this year. A new federal ozone rule, which was put into effect this year, tightened the federal ozone standard. The standard is based on studies regarding the health effects of ozone pollution on those who would be most sensitive. Pollution levels are measured in parts per billion (ppb) to determine attainment with the standard. The previous standard considered to be unhealthy for sensitive groups was 75 ppb, while the current standard has been strengthened to 70 ppb.

“We are seeing a continued trend of improved air quality in the region,” said Evelyn Ebert, MORPC’s Air Quality Program Supervisor.  “In fact, Central Ohio had a higher percentage of days in the Good Air Quality Index (AQI) category, when compared to last year."

The annual report highlights the following findings:

  • The region has continued its trend of improving air quality over the past twenty years.
  • Hotter than normal temperatures and dry conditions contributed to ozone exceedances.
  • Air Quality remained in the “good” category for a higher percentage of days compared to 2015, despite 2016 being the second hottest summer on record.
  • April 18 was the earliest ozone alert in the Columbus region since records began in 2002.

MORPC is part of a network of agencies across the country that issue daily air quality forecasts and notify the public when ozone and particle pollution levels are considered to be unhealthy for sensitive groups of people. Throughout the year, MORPC is responsible for providing Central Ohio residents with important information about the air we breathe. Poor air quality affects everyone; however children, the elderly, and those with chronic respiratory diseases can be particularly sensitive to air pollutants.

The official ozone season in Central Ohio is from April 1 to October 31, with ground-level ozone levels often ramping up in summer months, when temperatures begin to climb and sunlight is more prevalent. In the past few years, pollution levels have improved despite warmer temperatures that normally contribute to ozone formation.

Anyone can help improve air quality and residents Central Ohio residents did their part in June 2016 by participating in the Central Ohio Commuter Challenge. Participants reduced their vehicle miles traveled by 95,531 miles and diverted 72,580 pounds of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. They also saved more than $25,000 in vehicle costs during the month of the challenge by taking sustainable modes of transportation. The Challenge was sponsored by MORPC, COTA, Car2Go and CoGo. 

You can sign-up online to receive Air Quality Alert notifications delivered straight to your inbox by visiting

To view the 2016 Ozone Report in its entirety, please click here.