And so are high temperatures. March through November is Ozone Season, when
ground-level ozone becomes a concern as the temperature heats up and the
humidity increases here in the Four States. Even though we can’t see low levels
of ozone forming in the air, the Four States Clean Air Alliance (FSCAA) wants
to keep you breathing easy.
Ground Level Ozone is an air pollutant
formed by chemical reactions involving nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic
compounds (VOC’s) and sunlight. It generally forms on hot summer days, and is
one of the six principle pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act. NOx
emissions are largely products of combustion.
From small fires and the smallest lawn mower engine to the largest
commercial boiler, they all produce NOx.
VOC’s are again caused by combustion, but are also commonly associated
with chemical use.
To help the
public better understand this pollutant, Alliance members gathered at Leonard
Park to provide tips and suggestions that the public can easily complete. By
doing so, it will help alleviate increasing levels of this potentially harmful
gas that causes significant negative effects on human health and the
Chairman of FSCAA, noted, “Simple measures, such as unplugging unused
electronics, turning up your thermostat slightly during summer, and stopping
when hearing the “click” at the gas pump all help reduce the amount of ozone impacting
our environment. Also, maintenance of vehicles, gas-powered mowers and yard
equipment not only makes them operate more efficiently, but it also decreases
the conditions that contribute to ground level ozone.”
suggested doing the yardwork in the morning or evening, so the emissions of
these tools are not released during the hottest part of the day.
One of the
first steps in reducing ground-level ozone is educating the public about ozone
and its potential risks. Ground-level ozone can cause the following health
effects even at low concentrations:
asthma or other respiratory illnesses
respiratory systems causing coughing and throat irritation
and damage cells that line the lungs
lung capacity, making it difficult to take deep breaths
susceptibility to respiratory illnesses
hospitalizations by aggravating respiratory illnesses
High levels of
ground-level ozone can damage plants and other vegetation by making them more
susceptible to disease, harsh weather, insects and other pollution.
“We want to
create more of an awareness about this issue, and encourage the public to join
us in working to reduce the levels,” said Pekarek.
quality issues have generally been considered a problem for large metropolitan
areas, now mid-sized or smaller communities such as the Joplin Metro area have also
identified air quality issues as a potential issue. This is especially true for
ozone, as federal ozone regulations have become more rigorous in recent years
due to the growing awareness of adverse health and environmental effects it can
cause. With this increased regulation, acceptable ground-level ozone levels
have been reduced to the point that the Joplin Metro area could be considered in
violation of these standards in the near future.
this risk, the FSCAA was formed through a joint agreement of the Joplin Area
Transportation Study Organization (JATSO) and the Environmental Task Force of
Jasper and Newton Counties (ETF) to develop a plan to reduce the ground-level
ozone. The FSCAA is comprised of members
from local and area utility companies, industries, municipalities, and
affiliated agencies and organizations that have an impact or are impacted by
ground-level ozone levels.
The Four State Clean Air Alliance (FSCAA) has developed a Path Forward document
that describes the issue and lays out voluntary goals and strategies to help in
reducing the ground level issue. Many of
the goals found in the document are oriented toward small businesses and
individuals and suggest small measures people can do themselves to reduce the
risk of ground level ozone formation.
website, www.summerair.org provides
detailed information. The group’s public service announcements can also be
viewed on the site. These focus on specific areas, starting with a general
message and definition; energy efficiency, fueling tips, and solvents. FSCCA is also active on Facebook and Twitter.
The group’s Path Forward can be found on this website.
Members of the
FSCCA are available to make presentations to area groups and organizations
about ground-level ozone. To inquire about this opportunity for your group or for
more information, please contact Joplin’s Public Information Officer Lynn
Onstot at 624-0820, ext. 204, or visit the summerair.org website.