Perhaps more than anything else, air interacts directly and constantly with us. All land creatures breathe gases and materials suspended in the air. By the same token, trees, grasses and other plant species carpeting the earth are equally dependent on clean air. Air quality has significant potential impact on agriculture, which remains an important industry in Alachua County. A more recent concern related to air quality is the impact on water quality via atmospheric deposition. We all have a stake in the quality of our air.
Air Pollution in Alachua
Outdoor air quality is affected by many human and natural activities. Manufacturing companies, power plants, small businesses, automobiles, and forest fires are all sources of air pollution. Air pollution can be defined as a condition in which any foreign or natural substance is discharged into the atmosphere at levels that produce a measurableand undesirable effect on humans, animals, vegetation or materials. Any activity that releases materials into the air affects air quality. Factors that contribute to air quality include the primary emissions in the area, secondary pollutants formed in the atmosphere, pollutants transported into the area, meteorological conditions and geographical conditions. Alachua County generally enjoys good air quality with the exception of ozone (mainly in summer) and fine particulates.
Air Temperature Inversions in Alachua
Air temperature inversions occur about one or two times per year in Alachua County, primarily in the urban center of Gainesville and typically last one or two days. These inversions occur primarily in winter at times of low wind activity. Pollutants such as smoke, dust, and car exhaust can become trapped in the lower levels of the atmosphere, causing health problems. The major sources of pollutants during inversions are automobile emissions, industry located outside Alachua County, and smoke from forest wildfires or wood burning stoves. Alachua County may be more susceptible to inversions because of its location in the interior of the peninsula away from shore breezes.
Air Pollution and Population Growth in Alachua
The population of Alachua County has increased about 20% since 1990. As population increases, so do various sources of air pollution. The major threats to air quality in Alachua County are vehicle emissions and pollutants generated locally as well as those blown in by winds from other areas. In addition to vehicle emissions, other local sources affecting air quality include wood stoves and fireplaces, open burning, wildfires, and combustion emissions from major stationary sources.
For more information on air resources in Alachua County, visit the the Environmental Protection Department's Air Quality Program.