A strongly positive view of UK-US relationships was emphasised this week by Professor Bernard Fisher in line with the US Air Quality Awareness Week which runs from April 30-May 4.
Professor Fisher, who is also principal scientist at the Environment Agency working on air quality, said: “The UK has had good links with the United States. There are links between the Environment Agency and Defra and we cooperate well with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”
Explaining the connections, Professor Fisher said that the EPA has more resources than the UK. “A lot of the models that are used in Europe and a derived in the US. It does make sense for these models to be tested under other conditions and disseminating models has benefits too for them.”
The US models, including a regional model, are “of benefit to the wider EU and adds to the arsenal of air quality models available in Europe.”
The IAQM chairman pointed out that Defra are “at the moment conducting a model evaluation process as you have to have faith in the model.”
And, Professor Fisher said that the idea of an Air Quality Awareness Week in the UK was something that the IAQM may consider. “We have had noise weeks and you do wonder whether an air quality awareness week might be potentially be a good idea. It might be tricky choosing the right week depending on the weather.”
A spokeswoman for the US Environmental Protection Agency told AirQualityNews that the week was important. She said: “Our message is that exercise and clean air both are important for health. The annual Air Quality Awareness Week is joint effort between EPA, and our state and federal partners to remind the public to check the Air Quality Index (AQI) as they plan their outdoor exercise.”
“We say to the public that on days when air quality is poor, simple changes to your exercise plans — changing the time or day, or doing something less strenuous, for example, can help reduce your exposure to pollution.”
And, she added that the public are advised that they can go to the website www.airnow.gov to get their air quality forecast or download a free AIRNow app for air quality information on the go.
Lisa Jackson, who as Administrator heads the US EPA, has listed air quality improvements as one of the seven main aims of the authority.
She said: “American communities face serious health and environmental challenges from air pollution. We have already proposed stronger ambient air quality standards for ozone, which will help millions of American breathe easier and live healthier. Building on that, EPA will develop a comprehensive strategy for a cleaner and more efficient power sector, with strong but achievable emission reduction goals for SO2, NOx, mercury and other air toxics.”
Ms Jackson added: “We will strengthen our ambient air quality standards for pollutants such as PM, SO2 and NO2 and will achieve additional reductions in air toxics from a range of industrial facilities. Improved monitoring, permitting and enforcement will be critical building blocks for air quality improvement.