News

Regional Businesses and Organizations Celebrate 2011 Ozone Season with No Red Days


Research Triangle Region, N.C.Triangle Air Awareness celebrated the end of the 2011 ozone forecast season with a luncheon for regional business and community partners and a good report as the region nears the season end on Oct. 30.

The region experienced no Code Red days during the season and air quality numbers were on par with 2010 – 1,239 Code Green days, 313 Code Yellow days and 14 Code Orange days – meaning the region’s air quality has not worsened and citizens are doing their part to minimize their contributions to air pollution, Triangle Air Awareness Program Coordinator Elaine Loyack said.

The luncheon event is held each year to recognize the importance of the Triangle Air Awareness Coalition’s Business Coalition and the role its members play in teaching their staff how to reduce air pollution.

Keynote speaker Denis DuBay, Ph.D., of ThisViewOfEarth.com, spoke on the negative impacts of air pollution on lung health. He called on attendees to continue efforts to reduce their energy consumption and, thereby, energy demand on coal-fired power plants, a prime source of ozone air pollution in North Carolina. DuBay suggested simple actions, such as unplugging appliances, including television sets, when not in use, turning off lights when not in the room and switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Triangle Air Awareness recognized meteorologists from each of the four local news stations and the N.C. Division of Air Quality with its We Couldn’t Do It Without You Award for their efforts to raise awareness of the need to improve regional air quality.

“Our local meteorologists help us extend our outreach to the public to a degree beyond our means,” Loyack said. “They tell us the color code for the day and explain what that means for residents and how to protect their health. Together, we work toward a healthier and cleaner Research Triangle Region.”

Representing their stations were Gary Stephenson and Lee Ringer from News 14 Carolina, Don Schwenneker from WTVD ABC 11, Bill Reh from WNCN NBC17 and Mike Moss from WRAL. Representing the Division of Air Quality were Nick Witcraft, Elliot Tardif and Chris Misenis, the meteorologists who help determine the air quality forecasts.

A highlight of the event was Zach Ward of Dirty South Improv, who posed as a luncheon guest with the title “Clean Air Advocate.” He surprised guests with a choreographed disruption just as the awards were to be presented. Ward told the audience how much he loved clean air and launched into song, incorporating each meteorologist into the lyrics.

Triangle Air Awareness raffled off door prizes to attendees, including gift certificates to area restaurants and retail stores. New and existing coalition members in attendance were eligible to participate in a drawing for an iPad 2. Tristan Pan of Pan Insurance, one of the Coalition’s newest members, was the lucky iPad 2 winner.

Membership in the Triangle Air Awareness Business Coalition is free. Members receive air quality updates throughout the ozone forecast season as well as educational materials and invitations to events such as the End of Ozone Forecast Season Luncheon. The program offers site visits to conduct air quality workshops and participate in health fairs. It will soon begin conducting gas cap checks to ensure a tight seal. Its Web site provides activities to help regional residents learn about and access information on ways to reduce air pollution.

For more information or to become a member of the Business Coalition, visit www.triangleairawareness.org or contact Loyack at Elaine.Loyack@ncdenr.gov or (919) 715-7647.