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Air smog-free so far this summer

Staff Photo: Camie Young Vinessa and Neo Almanza enjoy a picnic with their mother Erika Castillo Thursday at Rhodes Jordan Park. Metro Atlanta has had the longest streak of clean air days since 1997.

Staff Photo: Camie Young Vinessa and Neo Almanza enjoy a picnic with their mother Erika Castillo Thursday at Rhodes Jordan Park. Metro Atlanta has had the longest streak of clean air days since 1997.

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Staff Photo: Camie Young Isabel Salvatierra, 5, and Renee Sans, 6, swing on the playground at Rhodes Jordan Park Thursday, enjoying another summer day with air free of smog. Metro Atlanta has had the longest streak of clean air days since 1997.

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Air Quality Index chart

LAWRENCEVILLE -- So far this summer metro Atlantans can breath a little easier, thanks to a smog-free season.

The air this year has been cleaner than it has been in 16 years, with the Clean Air Campaign reporting no smog alerts so far in 2013.

"Its been a pretty lucky streak we've had," said Brian Carr of the campaign. "I think we've had a very forgiving spring."

Cooler temperatures and frequent rain have proven to be "antidotes to smog," Carr said of the air pollution that has plagued city-dwellers for a few decades, especially when extreme temperatures "cook" pollutants into a thick concoction that causes asthma and other bronchial problems.

By the end of June last year, the region had experienced eight days of dangerously unclean air, although the smog season often worsens through the summer.

So far, so good, though, this year. Carr said the last time the air has remained smog-free this far into the year was in 1997, when the first exceedance happened July 14.

"I would love to take credit," Carr said of the campaign's work to promote commute alternatives and other ways to clear pollutants from the air. "We're pretty lucky so far."

Even with 11 more inches of rain than normal through May of this year, Carr said people should not rely on the weather continuing the smog-free streak. He has talked to forecasters and even consulted the Farmer's Almanac, but isn't sure if the phenomenon will last long.

Instead, his organization continues to spread the word about carpooling and riding transit, since 50 percent of smog-forming emissions comes from car tailpipes. People can also help by reducing their idling times, combining errands and even tuning up the lawn mower.

"It'll be up to people," he said of keeping the air clean. "But (the weather) has provided a needed break."