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Morning Notes

Arlington Heights Gets New Stop Sign — “The Arlington Heights neighborhood became a safer place for students and other pedestrians on Oct. 30,” after the neighborhood got a new all-way stop sign at the intersection of 2nd Street S. and S. Irving Street. Residents collected some 500 petition signatures in support of adding the stop sign. [InsideNova]

Reminder: Daylight Saving Time — Early Sunday morning is the time to “fall back” as Daylight Saving Time ends and clocks get set back an hour. [USA Today]

Clean Air in N. Va. — “This past summer’s air was among the healthiest in memory across the commonwealth. The summer months were the cleanest in terms of ground-level ozone in at least 20 years, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality reported on Oct. 31.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Car Fire on 23rd Street N. — A car was engulfed in flames on 23rd Street N. near the Overlee pool last night just before 6:30 p.m. The fire department arrived on scene and quickly extinguished the fire. [Twitter]

Local Tech Firm Benefiting from TrumpGiant Oak, a low-profile data mining firm based in Clarendon, has been awarded nearly $3 million in contracts from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since President Donald Trump took office. Most of the contracts are for “social media data analytics.” [Forbes]

Arlington On-Time Grad Rate Dips — “Arlington Public Schools’ on-time-graduation rate dipped slightly in 2017, remaining roughly on par with the state average, according to figures reported Sept. 27. The school system’s on-time-graduation rate of 90.8 percent was down from 91.1 percent a year before and the lowest since 2012.” [InsideNova]

No ‘Code Red’ Days This Year — Summer is over and the D.C. area got through it with no “code red” and fewer “code orange” low air quality days. “We’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the region’s air quality thanks to more than a decade of action and coordination at all levels of government,” said Hans Riemer, chair of the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee. [MWCOG]

Road Closures for Shirlington Oktoberfest — Campbell Avenue and part of S. Randolph Street in Shirlington will be closed most of the day Saturday for the annual Shirlington Oktoberfest, which runs from noon to 7 p.m. [Arlington County]

County Awarded for Economic Development Efforts — “Arlington Economic Development (AED) has been honored with three Excellence in Economic Development Awards by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The awards were presented at a ceremony earlier this month during the IEDC Annual Conference in Toronto.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Arlington Under Code Orange Air Quality Alert Today

Arlington County and the rest of the D.C. metropolitan area is under a Code Orange alert today (Friday) for its air quality.

With temperatures and humidity expected to build today and continue through the Fourth of July holiday, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments issued its alert, warning that sensitive groups could be affected and should avoid strenuous activity or outdoor exercise.

More from MWCOG and the National Weather Service:

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments in association with Maryland Department of the Environment, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and District Department of Environment has issued a Code ORANGE Air Quality Alert Friday for the DC metro area.

A Code Orange Air Quality Alert means that air pollution concentrations within the region may become unhealthy for sensitive groups. Sensitive groups include children, people suffering from asthma, heart disease or other lung diseases and the elderly. The effects of air pollution can be minimized by avoiding strenuous activity or exercise outdoors.

For more information on ground-level ozone and fine particles… visit www.cleanairpartners.net.

MWCOG forecasts that the air quality will drop down to moderate levels this weekend.

Image via Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow service

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Morning Notes

Cicadas Emerge in Droves — Cicadas are making an unexpected appearance in Arlington, the D.C. area and other parts of the eastern U.S. The insects emerged from the ground around trees earlier this month, evidence of which could be seen in the form of holes in the ground crunched carcases on nearby sidewalks. It’s believed that the cicadas may be early arrivals from a brood that was expected to swarm the area in 2021. [WTOP, WJLA, Cicada Mania]

Heat and Poor Air Quality Today — Near-record heat is expected today and tomorrow, with temperatures in the lower-to-mid 90s. The D.C. area is under a Code Orange Air Quality Alert, meaning that “air pollution concentrations within the region may become unhealthy for sensitive groups” like children, asthma sufferers and the elderly. [Capital Weather Gang, Weather Channel]

Photo courtesy Fred Cochard

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Morning Notes

Lander Apologizes for Insensitive Comments — School Board member James Lander has apologized for making insensitive comments about domestic violence yesterday on the “Arlington in the Morning” radio show. Lander has taken flak for appearing to engage in victim blaming when discussing the 2010 murder of UVA student Yeardly Love. In a statement, Lander said he made a “terrible communication mistake.” [Facebook]

Airport Contract Workers Win Pay Increase — Contract workers at Reagan National and Dulles International airports won their two-year fight for higher wages. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s board voted yesterday to require companies doing business with area airports to pay their workers a base hourly wage of $11.55 starting in January. Some of the workers currently make $7.25 an hour. [Washington Post]

More Passengers at DCA — More than 1.6 million passengers traveled through Reagan National Airport in February, which is a 2.6 percent increase over last year. [InsideNova]

Failing Air Grade — Arlington County earned an F grade in the American Lung Association’s 2017 “State of the Air” report. The region’s traffic created a lot of air pollution that contributed to a high level of smog in both Arlington and the District. Arlington did, however, receive an A grade in one category: particle pollution, also known as soot. [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Arlington Gets Another ‘F’ For Smog

State of the Air 2014 for Arlington (top graph shows high particle pollution days and bottom graph shows high ozone pollution, or smog, days)Arlington’s air again received an “F” grade for smog from the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report, with days of high ozone pollution increasing over last year.

ALA’s last report in 2013 said that Arlington experienced an annual average of less than 10 days of smog that were “unhealthy for sensitive populations.” In the most recent study period, that number jumped to 11.2 days per year. A weighted average of four days is considered a passing grade.

However, the Lung Association says that Arlington received an “A” in its particle pollution grade, registering no 24-hour periods of unhealthy levels of particle pollution. Last year it received a “B” grade.

The D.C. area was the 8th-most polluted metropolitan area in the country, according to this year’s report, up from 9th last year and 14th in 2011. Los Angeles was again the most smog-filled metropolitan area.

Images via ALA

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Morning Notes

Traffic on the Key Bridge facing Rosslyn (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

Code Orange Air Quality — Hot and unhealthy air is in the forecast today. Code Orange air quality is expected today through Friday, meaning that pollution levels could be harmful to children, the elderly, or people with health problems. On this hazy and humid day, the heat index could reach as high as 107 degrees. [WJLA]

Arlington Girls’ Fire Camp Profiled — CBS News correspondent Chip Reid took a look at Arlington’s girls fire camp on the network’s morning show. The camp is an effort to help spark interest in the department among potential future female recruits. Percentage-wise, Arlington has more than double the national average of female firefighters. The county also hired the first paid female firefighter in the nation. [CBS News]

Board Approves Improvements to Parks — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved nearly $2 million in contracts to repair and upgrade Towers Park and Ft. Barnard Park. Towers Park will get new tennis courts and a basketball court, among other things. Ft. Barnard Park will have its playground and picnic shelter replaced. [Arlington County]

Yorktown Running Back Commits to UNC — Star Yorktown running back M.J. Stewart will play Division I football at the University of North Carolina. Stewart, a rising senior, will still play at Yorktown this fall. [Sun Gazette]

New Pilates Studio Opens — A new pilates studio recently opened in Courthouse. It’s the second Arlington location for the company, My Thrive Pilates. The studios are located at 1401 N. Adams Street and 2800 S. Randolph Street. [PRWeb]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

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Arlington’s Air Gets ‘F’ Grade for Smog

Air pollution charts via stateoftheair.orgThe state of Arlington’s air is not very good, according to the American Lung Association.

The organization released its annual State of the Air report today and Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax and the District of Columbia earned an “F” grade for ozone pollution — also known as smog. The D.C. area as a whole ranked as the 9th most-polluted city in the nation for smog, up from 13th last year and 14th in 2011.

Arlington received a “B” grade for 24-hour particle pollution, meanwhile, which is better than the District’s “C” grade.

The report suggests that the D.C. area has improved in terms of particle pollution in recent years.

“The air in Washington, DC is certainly cleaner than when we started the ‘State of the Air’ report 14 years ago,” said Kimberly Williams, Advocacy and Communications Manager for the American Lung Association, in a press release. “Even though the area experienced increases in unhealthy days of high ozone, the air quality is still better compared to a decade ago. But the work is not done, and we must set stronger health standards for pollutants and cleanup sources of pollution in the D.C. area to protect the health of our citizens.”

The full press release, after the jump.

The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2013” report released today finds that the Washington, DC area has cut year-round particle pollution (soot) levels since the 2012 report, in keeping with a trend seen across the nation. The area also saw fewer days with unhealthy spikes in soot levels.

However, the area has experienced more unhealthy days of high ozone (smog.) The DC metropolitan area ranked as the ninth-most polluted city in the nation for smog, worse than last year’s rank of 13th-most polluted.

“The air in Washington, DC is certainly cleaner than when we started the ‘State of the Air’ report 14 years ago,” said Kimberly Williams, Advocacy and Communications Manager for the American Lung Association. “Even though the area experienced increases in unhealthy days of high ozone, the air quality is still better compared to a decade ago. But the work is not done, and we must set stronger health standards for pollutants and cleanup sources of pollution in the DC area to protect the health of our citizens.”

Looking at air quality in 2009, 2010, and 2011, the city of Washington, DC reduced its year-round particle pollution, earning a passing grade. It also reduced its days of short-term particle pollution, earning a C grade (compared to a D last year) and recording its lowest levels since the “State of the Air” report began. Particle pollution levels can spike dangerously for hours to weeks on end (short-term) or remain at unhealthy levels on average every day (year-round).

The city of Washington, DC experienced slightly worse levels of smog than in last year’s report, and once again earned a grade of F for its days of unhealthy levels of ozone. Ozone is the most widespread air pollutant, created by the reaction of sunlight on emissions from vehicles and other sources. When ozone is inhaled, it irritates the lungs, like a bad sunburn. It can cause immediate health problems that continue days later. Ozone can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and premature death.

In Virginia, Prince William, Loudoun, and Fairfax Counties all had improved levels of ozone. Arlington’s remained the same, and Alexandria’s worsened from last year’s report. Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax all earned Fs for ozone, but Loudoun improved from an F to a D, and Prince William maintained a C. Loudoun and Fairfax Counties also both reduced their levels of particle pollution.

Despite improvements, the “State of the Air 2013” report found that more than 131.8 million people in the U.S. still live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution, which equates to more than 4 in 10 people (42 percent).

The American Lung Association report reveals that from 2009-2011, many places made strong progress compared to 2008-2010, particularly in lower year-round levels of particle pollution. As a result of emissions reductions from coal-fired power plants and the transition to cleaner diesel fuels and engines, air quality is improving, especially in the eastern United States.

“State of the Air 2013” found that six cities had their worst record for short-term days since the data started to be collected.

The Lung Association led the fight for a new, national air quality standard that strengthened outdated limits on annual levels of particle pollution, announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last December. Thanks to air pollution health standards like this, set under the Clean Air Act and the EPA enforcement of these standards, the U.S. has seen continued reductions in air pollution.

Cleaning up major air pollution sources through steps like the cleaner gasoline and cleaner vehicle standards will drastically cut both ozone and particle pollution. That means more health protections for the nearly 132 million people living in counties with dangerous levels of either ozone or particle pollution. Those at greatest risk from air pollution include infants, children, older adults, anyone with lung diseases like asthma, people with heart disease or diabetes, people with low incomes and anyone who works or exercises outdoors.

“The evidence is clear that the Clean Air Act delivers significant health benefits,” said Williams. “Congress needs to continue to ensure that the provisions under the Clean Air Act are protected and are enforced. EPA and every state must have adequate funding to monitor and protect our citizens from air pollution.”

The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2013” report is an annual, national air quality “report card.” The 2013 report—the 14th annual release—uses the most recent quality assured air pollution data, compiled by the EPA, in 2009, 2010, and 2011. These data come from the official monitors for the two most widespread types of pollution, ozone (smog) and particle pollution (PM 2.5, also known as soot). The report grades counties and ranks cities and counties based on their scores for ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution levels.

The American Lung Association in Virginia urges the public to join the fight for clean air and to learn how to protect themselves and their families from air pollution by visiting www.stateoftheair.org.

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‘Code Red’ Air Quality Warning Issued

(Updated at 3:00 p.m.) The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has declared that the region’s air quality has reached the level of “Code Red” for today, meaning an unhealthy level of ozone pollution.

From a COG press release:

On Code Red days, active children and adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. Everyone else, especially children, should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.

COG also advises that all area residents take the following actions:

  • Sign up for air quality alerts at www.cleanairpartners.net
  • Turn off lights and electronics when not in use
  • Avoid lawn mowing or use an electric mower
  • Use public transit
  • Do not use chemicals on your lawn and garden

As of 2:50 p.m., the official temperature in D.C. reached 104 degrees. According to the Capital Weather Gang, that sets a new daily record and breaks the area’s all-time record for the month of June.

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