Concord air quality was pretty good in 2020, thanks partly to the pandemic

  • In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of vapor billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File) Jim Cole

Monitor staff
Published: 10/5/2021 2:42:01 PM

Concord comes off well while Keene and Berlin do badly in a new report about air pollution in New Hampshire communities.

The report from several groups reviewed Environmental Protection Agency air pollution records from across the country. The analysis focuses on ground-level ozone and fine particulate pollution, which come primarily from burning fossil fuels and from wildfires.

In a selection of New Hampshire communities, the Concord area had the fewest days with elevated ozone or particular matter: just 4.

By contrast, Keene had 26 days with elevated particulates. That was more even than the Boston region, which saw 16 days of high particular pollution despite having so many cars and industry.

The Keene area has long had problem with particulate pollution as it is located in a geographic bowl that often holds air in winter, allowing smoke from wood stoves to build up to dangerous levels.

Berlin saw 24 days with elevated ground-level ozone, a reflection partly of wind patterns that carry urban smog north.

The report was from the Environment New Hampshire Research & Policy Center, Frontier Group and the New Hampshire Public Interest Research Group’s education fund. Air pollution increases the risk of premature death, asthma attacks, cancer and other adverse health impacts.

Air pollution in 2020 was greatly affected by the pandemic, which slashed vehicle traffic and thus ground-level ozone pollution.

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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