Ozone level exceeds standards Tuesday for first time this year

A silver lining in Atlanta’s rainy and cool summer of has been a record-breaking dearth of “bad air” days.

Atlanta’s ground level ozone exceeded federal standards Tuesday for the first time this summer — a record-late date, according to Mike Rieman, a spokesman for The Clean Air Campaign, a non-profit alliance of government, business, civic, health, environmental and educational organizations that tracks the city’s air quality.

The latest into the year that Atlanta had previously gone without exceeding air quality standards was July 14, in 1997.

“As of this day last year, we had already racked up 14 exceedances” Rieman said Wednesday.

Overall, there were 16 ground level ozone exceedances in 2012 and 36 in 2011, Rieman said.

“You need sun and heat to combine with auto emissions to produce ground level ozone,” Channel 2 meteorologist David Chandley explained. “It’s the cloud cover and lack of sunshine,” that gets much of the credit for this summer’s improved air quality, he said.

“Despite the great air quality we’ve had to date, air quality can take a turn at any time,” Rieman warned.

“With school set to start back in many counties in the next week or two, it’s important that commuters do their part by choosing a commute option such as carpooling, teleworking or taking transit, since half of the smog-forming emissions in the region come from vehicle tailpipes,” he said.