Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

You may have guessed the air got cleaner near downtown Cincinnati as more people stayed home during COVID-19. Now Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency has the statistics to prove it.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Air quality testing in central Hamilton County has not turned up any volatile organic compounds, but testing will continue. The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency conducted tests at 20 different locations on Monday and Tuesday in response to complaints.

white pine pollen spores
Provided / Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency

On the roof of 250 William Howard Taft Road in Corryville, a 1" greased rod spins every ten minutes to collect pollen and mold spores. This is a regular routine at the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency from February through November where workers provide daily numbers to allergy sufferers.

Using data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the health news and information site HealthGrove released a study earlier this year that put Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky at the top of a list of states with the most air pollution.

Measuring and Improving Air Quality in our Region

Jun 23, 2015

  Last week the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency issued an Air Quality Advisory, what used to be called a smog alert, for our region, the first of this year.

Provided / Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency

The TriState started using smog alerts in 1995 to warn people about high pollution days.  But, those smog alerts are no more.  As of April 1, the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency will issue air quality advisories. Spokesperson Megan Hummel says times have changed. 

“The dark plume, and the smoke coming out of the smokestacks, you don’t really see that anymore.  And the reason for that is because all the restrictions on industry.  Industry is running much cleaner than they ever have before,” she says. 

Michael Keating

That annual Cincinnati summer ritual, the smog alert, has been absent this year and last year as well.  The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency's Monitoring and Analysis Supervisor, Anna Kelley, says the weather has played a big part in keeping down the pollution:

"We've had wonderful weather the past two summers, maybe not so much for swimming, but as far as keeping the air quality mixed and good, we've had some wonderful summers for that."

On its website the agency defines smog as:

Mark Heyne / WVXU News

If you're driving southbound 75 and happen to notice a shelter with a large antenna-like device sticking out the top near the 74 interchange, don't worry.  It's not spying on you or engaging in personal data mining.  It's among the first in a new national air monitoring program that starts this month.

The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency started the new program to monitor for air pollution in near-road environments.  And you can't get much nearer than this site, which sits about 15 to 20 feet from the interstate.