Kansas City area records potential violations of the federal ozone standard

For more information: 573-751-1010
Volume 37-284 For Immediate Release: Aug. 28, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. -- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources air quality monitor recorded high concentrations of ground-level ozone in the Kansas City area on Aug. 25. These concentrations have the potential to place the area in violation of the federal ozone standard.

High concentrations of ozone are considered unhealthy and can cause problems for those with existing heart or respiratory conditions, or even healthy individuals spending extended periods of time outdoors. In the general population, an elevated ozone level can lead to irritation of the eyes, nose and throat and make breathing difficult.

The Department recorded the high readings at the Trimble monitor, located in Clinton County, one of five Missouri ozone monitors located in the Kansas City area. Once those readings are validated, this will be the second monitor in the region in violation of the federal ozone standard based on the last three years of monitoring data. The Department also recorded high readings at the Rocky Creek monitor, located in Clay County, earlier this summer. These high readings are of particular concern not only because of the area's continued failure to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, but also because of the negative impacts to public health.

Effectively reducing ozone precursors, such as oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds, are necessary to protect air quality in Missouri. That is why community-wide voluntary actions can play a role in reducing air pollution. These voluntary efforts include industries using best management practices, homeowners and businesses delaying lawn maintenance, and citizens using mass transportation on high ozone days. Other actions, like "stopping at the click" when refueling vehicles or refueling later in the evening and early in the morning before the rush-hour, can also help reduce the formation of ground-level ozone. The fumes that escape during these activities play a major role in establishing the necessary conditions for ozone to form. Because exhaust emissions are greater during the rush-hours, any attempts to prevent emissions during these hours will make a difference.

Aside from costly emission controls on equipment, industries can take steps toward "greening" their operation in a variety of ways. Some of these steps include being aware of consumption and making goals to consume less energy. Setting concrete goals to reduce utility bills by 2 percent or office supply expenses by 15 percent can save companies money and protect air quality. These goals protect air quality by reducing the harmful emissions that are derived from coal-fired power plants that produce our energy and the vehicle emissions that are produced when office supplies are delivered. Turning off lights, computers and appliances when not in use and buying Energy Star appliances are other options that help reduce energy consumption. Finally, encouraging and organizing company carpools can reduce harmful emissions by removing unnecessary vehicles from the road.

Ozone season begins April 1 and ends Oct. 31. Throughout the season, 20 monitors across Missouri record ground-level ozone levels. Ground-level ozone is produced when volatile organic compounds mix with oxides of nitrogen on warm, sunny days with little or no wind. Man-made sources of volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen include power plants, automobiles and trucks and other business and industries.

Ozone monitoring data is available from the Missouri Air Quality Data System on the Department's website at www.dnr.mo.gov/AQDS/index.do. For more information on ozone, call the Department's Air Pollution Control Program at 800-361-4827 or 573-751-4817.

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