St. Louis area residents encouraged to help reduce ground-level ozone this Labor Day

For more information: 573-751-1010
Volume 37-301 For Immediate Release: Sept. 4, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. -- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources encourages St. Louis area residents to help reduce ozone this Labor Day weekend.

Ozone is a primary pollutant of concern in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources would like to remind citizens that everyone has a role in protecting air quality.  Simple steps taken everyday can help reduce the emission of harmful pollutants that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone.

When pollution from your vehicle combines in the presence of heat and sunlight with little or no wind, ground-level ozone -- commonly known as smog -- is created. Typically, ozone pollution is a problem in the hot summer months when higher temperatures cause the chemical reaction to take place. Throughout the ozone season, April 1 through Oct. 31, monitors across Missouri record ground-level ozone levels. In past years, ozone concentrations have typically been high on Labor Day weekend.

Exposure to ground-level ozone can attribute to health problems. Those who suffer from asthma, heart disease, emphysema and other respiratory diseases could experience increased breathing difficulty. Long-term exposure to high levels of ozone can even cause healthy adults, especially those who exercise or work outdoors, to experience breathing difficulty.

Historically, ozone has been a problem in heavily populated, urban areas such as St. Louis, where air pollution levels are greater and monitoring values have hovered at or just above the health-based ozone standard. The St. Louis area, which includes Franklin, Lincoln, St. Charles and St. Louis counties, currently does not meet the federal health-based air quality standards for ground-level ozone and has been designated by EPA as a nonattainment area.  Nonattainment areas are required to improve their air quality through emission control measures.

"The Department recognizes that maintaining good air quality can be attributed not only to the control measures that are already in place for industry but also to the voluntary efforts of Missouri citizens and partnerships committed to protecting community health," said Department of Natural Resources Director Mark N. Templeton. "Every effort should be made to reduce our impact on Missouri's air resources."

Residents can make simple changes in routine activities to help reduce ground-level ozone concentrations and do their part toward attaining the standard.  These ozone-reducing activities include:

The St. Louis community has taken several steps to implement controls to reduce ozone. Some of the control measures include reformulated (cleaner) gasoline, Stage II vapor recovery nozzles on area gas pumps, the Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program (vehicle emissions testing program), residential voluntary efforts and numerous industrial controls.

For more information on ozone, contact the Department's Air Pollution Control Program at 800-361-4827 or 573-751-4817 or visit the Department's website at