LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — There’s a silver lining to the COVID-19 crisis. Air Pollution in the Las Vegas valley is dropping, according to the Clark County Department of Environment and Sustainability.
Spokesman for the department, Kevin MacDonald, says our air is better because there are less cars on the road.
“How we drive and how often we drive can make a tremendous impact on air quality,” MacDonald said.
The Clark County Department of Environment and Sustainability is deemed essential.
“Our staff is still out there performing regular duties, differently though, practicing social distancing,” MacDonald added.
MacDonald says the day Governor Sisolak ordered Nevadans to stay home is the day air quality started improving.
“We have noticed a decrease in air pollution from the first half of March to the second half of March," he said. "When you compare February to March of this year we saw about a 33% decrease in air pollution, and that’s consistent with what’s happening around the country."
Ozone is a colorless gas in the earth’s upper atmosphere. At ground level, it’s a key ingredient in urban smog.
In a time when the public is fighting off a respiratory virus, a decrease in ozone levels is great news. The EPA says exposure to ozone can irritate your respiratory system, causing coughing, a sore throat, chest pain, and shortness of breath, even in healthy people.
MacDonald says he doesn’t know if ozone levels will spike back up once life returns to normal, only time and long term data will tell. His department is in uncharted territory just like everyone else right now.
To reduce ozone, reduce driving and keep your car maintained. Experts also advise filling up your gas tank after sunset, using landscaping that uses less gas-powered equipment to maintain, and turning off electronic when not in use.
If you have respiratory issues, you’ll want to reduce the time you are outdoors when ozone levels are elevated.