We breathe every minute of the day and each of us, whether we think about it or not, spends some effort to make both indoor and outdoor air safe to breathe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and states, including Maryland, have monitored outdoor air for many years and have seen successful reduction in major outdoor air pollutants. Six pollutants are monitored more carefully than the others. The Maryland Tracking Network website currently addresses two of these, ozone and particulate matter. Since most of us spend about 90% of our time indoors, the quality of indoor air is as important, if not more important, than the quality of outdoor air.
Millions of people live in areas where outdoor ozone, small particles, and toxic pollutants pose serious health concerns. Outdoor air pollution can affect our health over short periods of time and have a cumulative long-term impact. It can also damage vegetation, degrade water quality, and make our skies hazy.
The Maryland Department of the Environment plans and creates policies for healthy outdoor air. Air quality is generally improving, but some counties continue to be designated as "nonattainment areas" by the U.S. EPA.
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