Summertime, and the Air Quality is Healthful


Summer means cookouts and bicycle rides and softball games. For those in the Albuquerque region, outdoor activities have an added bonus: clean air. In conducting research on driving and transit in the area, the Foundation ran across an interesting fact. Despite surging population growth and a huge number of new vehicles on the roads and highways, between 1984 and 2014, air pollution plummeted:

Carbon Monoxide (2nd highest non-overlapping 8-hour average): -92 percent

Sulfur Dioxide (2nd highest 24-hour average): -78 percent

Nitrogen Dioxide (98th percentile of the daily max 1-hour measurement): -40 percent

In the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2015” report, “the Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Las Vegas area ranked the 16th cleanest of [220] U.S. metro areas.” In the future, air quality will only get better. David T. Hartgen, emeritus professor of transportation studies at the University of North Carolina, recently noted: “Improvements in conventional engines, along with alternatives such as fuel cells, electricity, natural gas and better batteries, will significantly increase average fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.”