Ozone Action Program Established for Eight-County Region
An Ozone Action Partnership, involving representatives from regional industry, government, academia and the medical community, rolled out a voluntary plan Friday, May 25 to help keep ozone levels down during the hot summer months. One element of the plan is to make ozone forecasts available to local media, so they can inform the public when ozone levels are expected to increase. Ozone forecasting will be available starting May 31st.
We all want clean air to breathe, yet without realizing it, we help create ozone, said Gary Mayes, director of the Sullivan County Regional Health Department. This voluntary plan calls for everyone to change some behaviors one day at a time.
Ozone is the main ingredient of smog and can cause a number of respiratory problems. Last summer one of the ambient air quality monitors in the region showed an exceedance of the one-hour ozone standard two days in a row. Criteria set by the Environmental Protection Agency limits exceeding the standard to three occasions during a three-year period. Going over the limit could prompt regulatory action by state and federal agencies.
Ozone formation is a concern during the summer when hot weather creates the right conditions. Typically there is no cloud cover, relatively high temperatures, stagnant wind, high pressure, and background pollution moving in from the west and south. The season for high ozone in the region lasts from May to September.
Ozone is formed in the earths lower atmosphere when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds react in the presence of sunlight. Nitrogen oxides are emitted by combustion sources such as cars, lawn and garden equipment, power plants, industrial facilities, and other sources. Volatile organic compounds come from paints, solvents, gasoline, and even plants and trees.
People in Tennessee and Virginia are known for their volunteerism and community pride, Mayes said. Weve faced challenges before and together we can solve just about any problem that comes along.
These are suggested ways that individuals can help on ozone action days:
Limit daytime driving or carpool.
Drive the newest and most efficient vehicle. (The emissions from one poorly maintained car equal that of 25 functioning properly.)
Postpone mowing until evening or the next day.
Reduce unnecessary engine idling, such as while waiting at a drive-though window.
Area employers have been asked to come up with their own ozone action plans. The Ozone Action Partnership has suggested that they consider postponement of paving or lawn maintenance on ozone action days and that they reduce the idling of 18-wheelers or other large vehicles. They can also encourage employees to eat in or rearrange work schedules to help reduce traffic. Employees also can be encouraged to reduce driving by using alternatives such as telecommunication.
The forecast for ozone action days will be made a day in advance by 4 p.m. to give people time to make plans for the following day. Were trying to protect the health of our citizens as well as the health of our economy, Mayes said. One way to do that is for everyone to chip in and do their part. It just takes a little bit of change by a lot of people to make a big difference.
Contact: Gary Mayes