Code Orange Bad Air Alert for Thursday, December 30, 2010


We don’t get as many bad air alerts in Winter. But they do happen and this is one. Generally, ozone doesn’t get into the warning levels in cold weather because the chemical reactions in the atmosphere that produce it slow at winter temperatures.

But, particle pollution cares less about the weather. It will be high on Thursday and may threaten your health.

Code Orange is officially described as “… a level of pollution that can be unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as young children, the elderly, and those with heart and/or respiratory conditions.”

Worth thinking about:

Nothing, literally nothing, is worse for air quality than fireplaces and wood stoves. These tend to fill the interior of your house with ultrafine particles having very bad effects on health. Green Delaware has also received many complaints from people bothered by their neighbors’ wood burners. Outdoor wood boilers are the very worst. In many places, not including Delaware, wood burning is being restricted.

On the other hand, Delaware’s Governor Jack Markell vetoed a bill to strengthen limits on incineration and seems to be promoting all air pollution except that coming from coal. Schemes to burn wood and sewage sludge are especially concerning due to the high levels of pollution from these dirty “fuels.”

DNREC’s Code Orange announcement says:

“Such persons should limit outdoor activities, especially those that require a high level of exertion.”

Well, yes. But don’t we deserve health air to breathe?

We think “persons” should also call Governor Markell’s office and their state senator and representative and ask them to oppose incineration schemes. Contact information for Delaware state elected officials.


At this time of year many orgs send begging emails (“Make Your Year-End Gift Now”). But never before have we seen so many–dozens, from organizations of all sorts. Times are tough for organizations that haven’t sold out to special interests and government agencies. Green Delaware has had to curtail some of its activities for lack of funds. If you want to contribute, there is a PayPal donation button on our web site.

Regardless, we wish everyone happy holidays.

Alan Muller

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