The outdoor air quality in the Big Lake area remains good, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Air Quality Index (AQI) numbers for the rural lake area rank consistently among the best in the state.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection website provides data from air quality monitors throughout the state.
The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality, and it is calculated based on monitored concentrations of ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. The highest AQI for the pollutants measured at each site over the past 24 hours is displayed.
The AQI scale runs from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. An AQI of 100 or less is indicative of pollutant concentrations that are considered satisfactory. This is the level the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set to protect public health. An AQI of 50 or less is indicative of pollutant concentrations that are considered good.
According to FDEP:
• When AQI is in the 101 to 150 range, children, older adults, and people with heart or lung disease should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
• AQI of 151 to 200 is considered very unhealthy. Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid all outdoor exertion: everyone else, especially children, should limit outdoor exertion.
On Jan. 16, 2023, the Belle Glade AQI was 30. Stuart AQI was 37. Port St. Lucie’s AQI was 37. Cape Coral’s AQI ws 36. Archbold Biological Station’s AQI was 34. Royal Palm Beach’s AQI was 51. Jacksonville’s AQI was 64.
In 2021, the average AQI for the United States was 43. The average AQI for the State of Florida was 38.9. The USA city with the cleanest air was Neah Bay Washington with an average AQI of 13. Weaverville, California had the worst AQI, with an average of 98.
In Florida, most of the AQI monitors are in the more populated, urban areas. Of the towns around Lake Okeechobee, Belle Glade is the only one with an Air Quality Index monitor. This monitor was installed due to questions about smoke from sugar cane burning.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection Air Monitoring website is online at https://floridadep.gov/air/air-monitoring/content/air-quality-today