HomeBlogWhat is the state of air pollution in Georgia, USA?

What is the state of air pollution in Georgia, USA?

Ambient (outdoor) and household (indoor) air pollution is the leading environmental health risk factor for morbidity and mortality around the globe. Some of the most commonly produced and dangerous pollutants  are Particulate Matter2.5 (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which are especially harmful to young people. Studies conducted by the American Lung Association, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and countless academic institutions have shown strong correlation between poor air quality and the development of early childhood lung and respiratory complications. 

PM2.5 is especially dangerous due to its size. PM2.5 can be produced by combustion engines and vehicle traffic, along with airborne dust and soils kicked up in high wind events and forest fire smoke. PM2.5 is 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. These airborne particulates are so small that when inhaled they can pass through the fibrous walls of your lungs and directly into your bloodstream.

NO2 is also of significant concern for the residents of Georgia, and throughout the US because of its impact on human health. NO2 is most frequently produced by burning fossil fuels. Prolonged exposure to NO2 can cause respiratory complications and make people more susceptible to respiratory infections. Additionally, NO2 contributes to the production of acid rain, and it can combine chemically in the atmosphere with other airborne pollutants to form ozone which is another harmful air pollutant in the troposphere (or close to surface). 

Airly experts compared air quality sensors map and the number of independent sensors and regulatory monitors in Georgia to California in May 2021. The analysis shows that California has a 4 times bigger population than Georgia and it has about 20 times more air quality sensors in its territory.

Table 1: The number of independent sensors and national regulatory monitoring stations in Georgia compared to California, May 2021 (PurpleAir, AirNow, official stations).

The experts have also analysed levels of PM2.5 in  Georgia and the rest of the USA, from October 2020 to March 2021.

Table 2: mean PM2.5 pollution [ µg/m3] for states, during october 2020 to march 2021

Table 3: Bar graph showing mean PM2.5 [µg/m3] pollution for states, for 10.2020 to 04.2021

The average concentration of PM2.5 in Georgia is about 20% higher than in all other states. However, during this spring, for over 15 days, the PM2.5 was twice bigger in Georgia than in other states.

Table 4: The concentration of harmful PM2.5 in Georgia, compared the mean concentration in all other states, during October 2020 to March 2021 is presented on the graphic below. 

The main conclusions are:

– PM2.5 is one of the most dangerous pollutants for human health

– in Georgia, the mean PM2.5  pollution for the entire study period for is about 10% higher than in California

– Georgia in the top 10 states with the highest PM2.5 air pollution in the US

The levels of mean NO2 concentration in Georgia is also higher than in the other states. Due to the extensive traffic, hot climate which makes the state prone to ozone pollution, Georgia is struggling with one of the highest levels of pollution and positioning itself among  the most polluted US states.

Table 5: The average levels of NO2 [µg/m3] pollution in the States, October 2020 to March 2021.

The main sources of air pollution in Georgia are:

  • traffic 
  • farming
  • solid fuels power plants

Table 6: The map of fossil fuel power plants in the US.

Key findings:

  • During the period of analysis, the air pollution level with particulate matter in Georgia was above average, especially the PM2.5 concentrations which often have twice the concentrations than the rest of the USA.
  • The number of air quality sensors is not sufficient to properly inform community members about the risks of exposure to pollution exposure.
  • It is necessary to monitor air quality around schools and give proper tools to teachers to protect children from exposure to air pollution.

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