Augusta ranks among top cities for air pollution

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News 12 @ 6 o'clock -- August 13, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The numbers are out about the air you breathe. Georgia and California are the only states with five cities in the Top 25 for the most air pollution; Augusta is one of those cities, coming in at number 21.

News 12 went to one of five small buildings in the area where air pollution in Augusta is monitored. Machines monitor over two hundred pollutants in the air.

"It's constantly pulling in air and it has a small filter and its constantly weighing it. That's how how you determine how much particulate matter is in the air, " said Jeffery Williams.

Jeffery Williams of Georgia's Air Quality Division is talking about things like industrial plants and diesel engines. A tiny filter measures the amount of pollution in the air.

And when it comes to pollution, Atlanta, Macon, Rome, Augusta and Columbus all top the dubious list. Georgia's Air Quality Division says conditions in these cities put people with asthma and heart conditions at more risk.

But Williams says they have the right tools to get the numbers down.

"This is pretty much the backbone of what we do. Without this equipment, we don't have any data to turn into the lab and they can't generate their reports."

Reports that will help improve Georgia's ranking.

"The air affects everybody. I feel like I'm a vital part to what's going on around me."

And these machines show everybody just how healthy our air is...or isn't.

The Augusta Metro Chamber has put together air quality initiatives to clean up the air in the Augusta area. They want to increase use of biodiesel fuels, alert the public on high ozone days and offer incentives to carpool.