FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 8, 2021

Joint Release:
St. Mary’s County Health Department
St. Mary’s County Public Schools
St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office

LEONARDTOWN, MD - (March 8, 2021) – The St. Mary’s County Equity Task Force is pleased to announce the launch of the BreatheWell St. Mary's initiative, a comprehensive air quality monitoring and health education initiative for St. Mary’s County.

Through BreatheWell St. Mary’s outdoor air quality sensors will be installed across the county that will measure particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and other elements that may contribute to poor air quality and respiratory illnesses. Indoor air quality sensors and air purifiers will also be used to promote occupational health in 24/7 first responder facilities and the county libraries.

Real-time outdoor air quality data and recommended protective health actions will be noted on the St. Mary’s County Health Department Air Quality Dashboard at: www.smchd.org/breathewell. Additionally, schools will fly color coded flags that indicate air quality index and corresponding outdoor activity recommendations for students, as illustrated here

“Knowing the day-by-day air quality index in their local community is especially important for persons with asthma, long-term lung complications from COVID-19, or allergic illnesses,” said Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County Health Officer. “This daily value influences the kinds of outdoor activities recommended for these and other community members so they may better protect their lung health and avoid breathing problems.” 

“This comprehensive air quality monitoring network will be an excellent tool for educators and their students to access and analyze local data - and explore how air quality impacts us all,” said Dr. J. Scott Smith, Superintendent of St. Mary’s County Public Schools.

“This is another exciting initiative for St. Mary’s County,” said Sheriff Tim Cameron. “The BreatheWell St. Mary’s monitoring system will be a useful tool to continue to ensure that the working environments of our detention center and other professional workspaces meet and exceed standards for indoor air quality,” the Sheriff said.

The Equity Task Force offers special thanks to the volunteer engineers and members of the St. Mary’s County Sierra Club for assisting with installation of the sensors and appreciates the partnership with the University of Maryland and St. Mary’s College of Maryland to support this initiative. Thank you also to the St. Mary's County Department of Public Works & Transportation for assisting installation of sensors, and to the local EMS/Fire Rescue Departments and St. Mary's County Public Library for their use of the air purifiers.

BreatheWell St. Mary’s offers community members a tool to make decisions that protect their lung health and increases awareness of environmental factors that may be contributing to disparities in health and education.  For more information, visit: www.smchd.org/breathewell or call the St. Mary’s County Health Department at (301) 475-4330.

On June 29, 2020, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, St. Mary’s County Public Schools, and the St. Mary’s County Health Department signed a Joint Resolution to Advance Equity locally in regards to public safety, education and health. Learn more at www.smchd.org/equity.