With no one on the roads, Ohio Valley breathing better than ever

Local News

So, can valley residents breath a sigh of relief?

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Throughout the world air is said to be in top condition due to the slow of industry, but right here in the Valley, the air is the best it’s ever been, according to the EPA.

Right now, we have some of the best air quality that anyone alive has probably ever experienced.

James Wood, Professor of Ecology at West Liberty University

With fewer cars heading to work, particulate in the air called PM2.5, is far below what is normal for the region.

When you burn things, it produces particulates, whether that’s diesel, oil, gasoline and coal, that goes into the air. And right now, those numbers are much lower for the area, much lower than they’ve been in decades.

James Wood, Professor of Ecology at West Liberty University

Since COVID-19 has started, we’ve seen a decrease in pollution worldwide, and in the U.S.
So, the Ohio Valley is no different. Everywhere has a visible decrease in pollution.

Bev Reed, leader of Concerned Ohio River Residents

Higher quality air means higher quality of living.

A recent national cross-section study conducted by Harvard University found that an increase of only 1 pg/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with an 8 percent increase in the COVID-19 death rate.

Polluted environment results in unhealthy people. And particularly with the pandemic that’s been going around, people who already have lung problems and respiratory issues, they’re being hit really hard with this. So, when we talk about air quality, ozone and particulate, those are respiratory issues.

And, if we can have healthier people breathing cleaner air, we can be more resistant and fair better if we do have some type of respiratory pandemic.

James Wood, Professor of Ecology at West Liberty University

The balance between the health of our economy and the health of the environment has been one battled for ages. The professor says moderate air is considered above 50. Today we’re sitting at 20, which is great news. But, some are convinced it doesn’t have to take a pandemic to be this way.

The Ohio Valley has so much potential. We have so many resources we could capitalize on and create a healthy, sustainable economy where everybody wins, everybody benefits.

Bev Reed, leader of Concerned Ohio River Residents

Because the Ohio Valley is, well, a valley… air inversions are said to trap pollutants even more so.
This is why leaders with concerned residents have been active in recent years on vetting what industry comes to town, and maybe this will shape industry going forward.

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