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(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
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|Air pollution level
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| 26 US AQI
PM2.5 concentration in Orlando is currently 1.2 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
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|Saturday, Feb 24
Good 19 AQI US
|Sunday, Feb 25
Good 26 AQI US
|Monday, Feb 26
Good 29 AQI US
Good 26 AQI US
|Wednesday, Feb 28
Good 23 AQI US
|Thursday, Feb 29
Good 34 AQI US
|Friday, Mar 1
Good 22 AQI US
|Saturday, Mar 2
Good 28 AQI US
|Sunday, Mar 3
Moderate 54 AQI US
|Monday, Mar 4
Good 35 AQI US
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Orlando is a city that has come in with a good level of air quality over the past few years and continues to do so well into 2021, showing low levels of pollution taken in the form of a US AQI reading, or the United States air quality index. This is a rating system that is used prominently due to its stringent measures in place, being far stricter than other rating systems used in certain parts of the world, hence why it is used for gauging the air quality of Orlando and many other cities throughout the United States.
However, as with all clean cities, there remains the ever-present threat of pollution spells occurring, caused by a multitude of different sources, including man-made ones, natural disasters, along with industrial activity all adding to the overall air quality levels. These year-round ambient pollution levels can also be affected by sudden spikes in pollution that can occur. It is these sudden spikes in air pollution that can cause the most health issues for certain individuals.
In early July of 2021, Orlando presented with a US AQI reading of 17, placing it into the lower end of the 'good' rating bracket. This is color-coded as green, for ease of use and reference throughout the air quality maps, graphs and forecasts present on this page, as well as throughout the IQAir website. Furthermore, a US AQI reading of anywhere between 0 to 50 is required for it to be classified as such, making it the most optimal rating bracket to be in.
During times when the air quality is classified as being 'good', those with pre-existing health conditions or hypersensitivity towards pollutants may be able to go about their usual day-to-day activities without experiencing any form of respiratory irritation or other aggravating symptoms. As well as this, the general public will also remain unaffected, indicating that the air will be significantly freer from smoke, haze, hazardous clouds of fine particles and other air contaminants.
Other US AQI readings that were taken around the same time as the above-mentioned number were ones as low as 9, all the way up to highs of 29. These were all within the 'good' rating bracket once again, and with all forecasts indicating US AQI readings within this bracket, the air quality can be considered as very optimal at this time of year (early July). When looking at some of the past readings of air quality taken in Orlando (which were measured in PM2.5 as opposed to the US AQI reading), it can be seen that the city also maintained a very good year-round level of air quality, with only slight elevations seen during one particular month, which will be discussed in further detail.
When the above-mentioned US AQI reading of 17 was taken, the current PM2.5 level was not found to be more than the World Health Organization's (WHO's) exposure recommendation. PM2.5 is one of the most dangerous pollutants found in the air in Orlando and throughout the rest of the world, with its extremely small size of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter making it extremely harmful to breathe. Furthermore, it can be comprised of a variety of harmful materials, which can cause inflammation of the lungs and respiratory tract upon inhalation, along with scarring, and heightened risks of cancer. These materials include ones such as ultrafine particles of soot, water vapor, sulfates, metal, silica and other forms of mineral dust.
The US AQI reading itself is a number aggregated from the various main pollutants found in the air, which includes nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3), along with the two main forms of fine particles, PM10 and PM2.5. The varying volumes of these pollutants found in the air in Orlando are used to obtain the US AQI reading, and as such, with low readings present, there would also be a correlating low amount of the aforementioned pollutants, although of note is that some of them can be subject to sudden rises throughout the year, in particular ozone, which is one pollutant that is of particular concern due to the health risks that it poses.
In closing, Orlando maintains a very good year-round quality of air, only briefly seeing slight elevations in air pollution. For those that wish to keep their pollution exposure to a minimum, forecasts and current readings can be monitored on this page, as well as via the AirVisual app.
Causes of pollution that affect Orlando and the state of Florida as a whole emanate from the various combustion sources present. These can range from the aforementioned sources such as wildfires, as well as anthropogenic or industrial activity being another factor. One pollution source that enables year-round ambient raises of PM2.5 is that of emissions or fumes released by vehicles. This can be a multifaceted issue, with primary pollutants given out by exhausts undergoing chemical reactions (under the right meteorological conditions, most prominent during the drier and sunnier months) and becoming secondary pollutants.
In further detail, a primary pollutant is released directly by a singular source, such as a vehicle engine, a factory boiler or a fire. A secondary pollutant typically forms in the atmosphere from various chemical reactions taking place between gases, particles and other pollutants that can bond under the right conditions.
Referring back to vehicular pollution, there would be many vehicles in use at any given time throughout the city of Orlando, with its growing population size coupled with increasing vehicle ownership (with an estimated 287,000 people living there as of 2019, an increase of around 50,000 since the last census taken in 2010). These vehicles would all emit their own pollutants, which can collect in areas that see a high level of traffic such as near motorways or rush hour traffic areas, particularly centered in the denser areas of the inner city where there would be many people commuting to and from work.
Heavy freight vehicles would also see a large amount of use, being used to ferry industrial and commercial goods in and out of the city. Their large size, coupled with the fact that many of them utilize diesel as their main fuel source, can add heavily to the pollution count, with each individual unit giving out more pollution than a smaller counterpart would.
Adding to the particle matter pollution, the tire treads of all vehicles present in Orlando and the state of Florida are all subject to eventual wear and tear over time. This can lead to many tons of microscopic rubber particles being deposited into the atmosphere, along with bodies of water and topsoil. Water contamination and algae blooms are of continuing concern throughout Florida, and as such, further water contamination is something that the state has been actively trying to both prevent and rectify in recent years.
Other sources of air pollution that occur in Orlando are fumes and smoke given off by factories, power plants and other related industrial sites. With a growing population comes an increase in demand for electricity, and although Florida is largely safe from the massive spike in energy demands that states with colder climates often see (with many homes and businesses ramping up their use of power for heating), much of the electricity generated in power plants still comes from unsustainable sources. This would include the combustion of materials such as coal, natural gas and diesel, which can have a heavy impact on the environment as well as affecting human health, largely from the variety of chemical compounds and fine particles that are released as a byproduct of the combustion process.
Other polluting sources worth noting are ones such as construction sites, demolition areas, road repairs, as well as any other activity that sees large amounts of earth being disturbed. These are often lesser known sources of pollution, all of which can release large amounts of hazardous particles into the air, with construction sites also relying on heavy machinery that runs on diesel fuels, as well as leaking other dangerous materials such as heavy metals into the environment, along with finely ground silica dust and soot. As touched on briefly, wildfires burning throughout the state can often have their polluting clouds blown many miles by strong winds, settling over cities large distances away from the original burn source. Although Orlando has remained largely unaffected by this, it is of importance to know the adverse effects that can come with exposure to smoke and haze caused by forest fires.
Aside from the above-mentioned pollutants that go into the overall US AQI aggregate, several other pollutants would also be found in the air in Orlando, varying from area to area, with places such as busy roads or industrial sites often having higher concentrations of certain pollutants present.
These would include black carbon, the main component of soot and a potent carcinogen, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Besides having highly detrimental effects on the health of those who breathe it, black carbon also has a prominent effect on the environment due to its property of absorbing solar radiation released from the sun and converting it directly into heat. This has a warming effect on the environment and thus is a contributor to global warming.
Some examples of VOCs include benzene, styrene, methylene chloride, toluene, xylene and formaldehyde. Both VOCs and black carbon are released from the incomplete combustion of both fossil fuels and organic material, and as such can be released from an increasingly wide variety of sources. VOCs are also the main offender when it comes to indoor pollution, as they can be released from many different household materials such as varnish, or varnished wood and other surfaces, glues, paint, as well as cosmetic products or other innocuous items such as scented candles also releasing them when burnt, with cheaper varieties often releasing more harmful chemicals.
Other pollutants include the aforementioned heavy metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium, which can be released as a byproduct of the combustion of various materials. Dioxins, furans and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons may also be found, along with ozone, or smog as it is better known as when it gathers in large enough accumulations. This is one of the main pollutants that is monitored by prominent organizations such as the American Lung associated, due to its growing prevalence along with the multitude of health hazards that it presents.
Observing the levels of PM2.5 that were recorded throughout 2020, it can be seen which months stood out as having the highest levels of air pollution present. Whilst this may differ from year to year, oftentimes many cities worldwide will follow patterns that remain the same each year, except for extenuating events such as wildfires that can cause large disparities between annual pollution readings.
In 2020, Orlando did however show a pattern whereby the air quality started to decline at the end of the year, with February through to April, along with December all showing the highest readings of PM2.5. This indicates a pattern whereby the pollution levels start to rise in December and continue into the early months of the following year.
Their respective readings were 7.1 μg/m³, 7.5 μg/m³, 10.9 μg/m³ and 9 μg/m³, making April the most polluted month of the year and the only one to move up into the 'good' rating bracket, which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 10 to 12 μg/m³ to be classified as such.
Whilst accurate data only exists from the last two years, it can be seen that a slight improvement was made, with any improvement however small indicating a positive step in the right direction. In 2019, Orlando came in with a yearly average of 7 μg/m³, whilst 2020 presented with a reading of 6.6 μg/m³.
This reading of 6.6 μg/m³ placed Orlando in 4206th place out of all cities ranked worldwide, a very optimal placing on the world circuit, as well as 40th place out of all cities, ranked in Florida. Out of all the months on record in 2020, ten of them came in within the WHO's target goal of 10 μg/m³ or less, for the best quality of air, making the air highly breathable and safe throughout the year.