QUALITY CONTROL: Two pollutants make up the bulk of the air quality monitoring oversight by the NC Department of Environmental Quality: ozone and fine particulates (PM2.5). From Bryson City to Lenoir, there are 11 ozone monitoring sites and five sites for PM2.5. The WNC Air Quality Agency conducts monitoring operations in Buncombe County, which also includes an urban air toxics monitor at A-B Tech. New this year is a sulfur dioxide monitor near the Duke Energy Progress plant in Skyland. Image from  Google, mapped by NCDEQ

Air apparent: monitoring air quality in the mountains

We all have to breathe to live, and the good news is that here in Western North Carolina, the quality of the air we all share is much better than it was just a few years ago. Across North Carolina, government employees are monitoring air quality and the associated health risks to make sure they stay within specified legal parameters. Meanwhile, citizen volunteers are also collecting data and working to make more information available to the public.

Appeals court upholds jury verdict in case against local air agency

On Jan. 11, the U.S. Appeals Court, Fourth District, upheld a jury’s judgment that the board of the WNC Air Quality Agency discriminated against Melanie Pitrolo when it passed over her for a key promotion in 2005. The ruling overturns a District Court finding that had reversed the jury and allowed Buncombe County — which oversees the agency — to compel Pitrolo to pay its legal costs. Now, Pitrolo may get to recoup her legal costs from the county.