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Is it the heat? The humidity? No, it’s the smog (access required)

By Sam Boykin Charlotte has long been renowned for its sunny weather, which is often cited by newcomers as one of the reasons they moved to the area. This is great news for city boosters, but it’s not so great for the region’s air quality. When you combine Charlotte’s hot, summer days with the area’s explosive population growth and traffic congestion, the result is air pollution, which doesn’t bode well for the business community — or anyone who breathes on a regular basis, for that matter. Many businesses have made significant efforts to improve air quality. But the eight-county Charlotte region has since 2004 exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s daily limits for ground-level ozone, a nasty mix of motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions and sunlight. Ozone is particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with heart and lung disease. And in April the American Lung Association ranked metro Charlotte the nation's 10th-smoggiest city, up from 13th in 2008. Smog is a composite of ozone and particulate matter, and poses an even greater health risk than ozone. “That’s a serious black eye to the business community,” said June Blotnick, executive director of Clean Air Carolina, a Charlotte-based nonprofit that works on improving air quality on a regional and statewide basis.

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