Jefferson County, Alabama

Air Quality


Let’s All Do Our Share for Cleaner Air!

The Birmingham area’s air is in danger. On some days pollution levels exceed the federal standards. If we continue violating these standards, we are all going to suffer. Even now, restrictions exist on the kinds of businesses that can locate here, and we may one day lose federal highway funds. Worst of all, the air you breathe won’t be healthy for you.

Don’t think it's just up to big businesses to stop polluting. There are many, simple things you can do to improve our air quality right now.

It’s especially important to take certain steps on Ozone Action Days - the days when conditions seem right for ground level ozone to form. These days occur occasionally in the summer months when air quality may not meet established health standards. We have a system in place to warn everyone – citizens and business – about these days before they happen. When you hear these warnings, plan to restrict your driving and take the other steps shared below.

Why should you be concerned about Ozone Alerts? Because ground-level ozone makes our air unhealthy to breath, irritates the eyes, and can harm the respiratory system. This type of ozone is formed when the energy from sunlight reacts with pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from cars, gasoline, paints, solvents, and industrial processes.

- Air Quality Guide for Ozone

- Ozone Information

- Daily Ozone Forecast


- What does this flag mean?

Things You Can Do To Help Clear the Air.
First of all, keep an eye out for Ozone Alerts this summer. In addition to our link above, you might see them in the newspaper, or find out about them from television or radio news broadcasts. You can also call the Air Quality Hotline at 933-0583 or visit

Together, we can make a difference. Here are some simple things you can do to help clean up our air.

  • Limit driving and use your newest, most efficient car. Keep your car well maintained. Your car will burn less fuel, get better gas mileage, and cause less pollution.
  • Don’t let your engine idle unnecessarily. Avoid drive through windows at restaurants and banks.
  • Wait until late afternoon to fill up with gas, and don’t top off your gas tank. This will prevent gasoline vapors from accumulating in the air during the peak hours of ozone formation.
  • Delay cutting your grass until the Ozone Alert is over. Some lawn mowers produce more polluting emissions than 40 new cars.
  • Take the bus, car pool, walk, or ride a bike to your destination.
  • Don’t use oil-based paints, lacquers, or solvents. Latex paints do not contain solvents that cause ozone.

Respiratory symptoms such as decreased lung function or inflammation caused by exposure to ozone are unpleasant even for healthy individuals. But they can be devastating to people with asthma, emphysema, or other respiratory problems. According to the American Lung Association, extended exposure to high ozone levels may cause premature aging of the lungs and chronic lung disease. Adults over 65 and children under 13 are especially vulnerable to ozone pollution. Even healthy people who work or exercise outdoors are at risk of developing respiratory symptoms when exposed to high ozone levels.

This list will give you some ideas on how you can help reduce pollutants on Ozone Action Days and every day. One of the most important things you can do is to reduce your driving. Motor vehicles emit a significant percentage of the ozone-forming pollutants in our area. Every time you drive unnecessarily-especially on Ozone Action Days-you’re contributing to the problem.

You can help by trying some of the things on the list. They’re inexpensive, easy and they help. And they’re far less expensive than the federal mandates will be if we don't clean our air up on our own.