Delaware Air Quality Forecast, Valid Sunday, June 6 (Code Yellow)

Notes from Green Delaware.  Official forecast below.

Todays’s forecast is GREEN for ozone and YELLOW for Fine Particulates.

Particulates ("dust" in the air) have been very much the focus of attention in air pollution circles over the last few years. The science, of course, is complicated, but generally, when investigators look, they are finding a direct correlation between levels of fine particles in the air and levels of human death and disease. 

The smaller the particles the more harm they do because they stay in the air longer, aren’t visible, have larger surface area, go deeper into the lungs, and can pass into the bloodstream and the brain. 

The chemical make-up matters too:  If the particles are made up of toxic or cancer-causing substances, or have these stuck to their surfaces, they do more health damage.  The smallest category of particles are often called "nanoparticles ."

Many particles are emitted directly from smokestacks and tailpipes and so on.  Others, called "secondary" particulate, are formed in the atmosphere from gaseous pollutants.  Example: sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a common air pollutant that causes health damage and acid rain.  It is emitted in large amounts from refineries, power plants, and diesel engines.  But, SO2 reacts in the atmosphere to form sulfate (SO4) particulate . 

The Delaware City Refinery (perhaps we should now call it the "Jack Markell/Chris Coons Refinery") reported emitting 1.1 million pounds of fine particulate ("PM2.5") in 2007.  It also reported belching 5.7 million pounds of SO2.  If even half of that was converted into ammonium sulfate particulate, it would have meant over 12 million more pounds of "secondary" fine particle emissions.  Similar things happen with "NOx" emissions.

This is roughly what we can expect from the reopening of the Markell/Coons Refinery.  So far as Green Delaware can determine, no consideration was given by the State of Delaware or New Castle County to the health implications of restarting this dirty facility.

Alan Muller


State of Delaware Air Quality Forecast for:
Saturday, June 5, 2010

(New Castle County including City of Wilmington)

Fine Particles (PM2.5): CODE YELLOW (MODERATE)


(Kent and Sussex Counties including City of Dover)

Fine Particles (PM2.5): CODE GREEN (GOOD)



A cold front arrives Sunday afternoon with clouds and rain during its passage.  Air quality will begin the day in the moderate range then improve to the good range with the exception of lingering moderate concentrations of PM in northern Delaware.

Windy and much less humid Monday with good vertical mixing leading to good air quality across the state.  High pressure builds in Tuesday with scattered locations reaching the moderate range for ozone.


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