Breathing Easier: Agency Says D.C. Region’s Air Is Cleaner

Your electric cars are working. So is walking to the grocery store. And solar panels on your roofs.

The D.C. region’s air is getting cleaner.

That’s the word from William Ellis, who works at Pepco and serves as the clean air partners board chair for the Council of Governments. COG is the organization that says whether it’s a Code Red or Code Orange Day.

“We have definitely improved over the last decade,” Ellis said.

According to Ellis, the region hasn’t had a Code Purple Day — the worst on their scale — since 2012. And just one Code Red day last year.

The region has had four Code Orange days so far this year.

That’s far different than when the region would have seven to 10 Code Red days a year.

Ellis attributed the change to the things people are doing to improve air quality. Things like using electric lawn mowers or buying gasoline after dark.

“All those things,” he said, “have a significant impact.”

The color of a given day is based on readings done by the Environmental Protection Agency. For a Code Orange day, particulates in the air exceed 70 parts per billion. For a Code Red day, particulates are greater than 85 ppb. And for a Code Purple day, particulates exceed 100 ppb.

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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug


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