News & Events

Where Did Blue Mountain Go? Smog Changes the Topography of the Lehigh Valley

Friday, June 10, 2011

If you live in the Lehigh Valley or Berks County region, you're familiar with the mountain ranges to the north and south.

Yesterday's haze was so bad that South Mountain was hardly visible at all from Route 22 by 9:00 in the morning. During the afternoon, conditions were even worse: Blue Mountain to the north had completely disappeared.

Haze is caused by the the production of ground-level ozone, which occurs when sunlight on hot days like yesterday interacts with NOx (nitrogen oxides) and volatile organic compounds.

Where does NOx and VOC come from? Industrial emissions, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapor (when you pump, spill from the nozzle, top-off your tank, paint with petro-based products, etc) and natural sources.

What does this have to do with the billboards I see on 22 for the Share The Ride Challenge?

A lot. Commuter traffic is the largest contributor to the ground-level ozone problem in our region. Specifically, single-passenger, single car commuting is a changeable behavior, and we're trying to incentivize the change. Reduction in trips, numbers of vehicles on the road, and gas fill ups can make significant changes to the haze (a pretty word for smog) levels, air quality, and personal health. Find out more on our website and at the the Share The Ride Challenge In the dog days of summer, we double-dog dare you!