News Release 085

Ozone monitoring season returns; simple steps can help reduce smog

Volume 39-085 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MARCH 29, 2010 – Ozone monitoring season begins April 1 and runs through Oct. 31 according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Ground-level ozone – commonly known as smog – is a gas that is created when pollution from vehicles, businesses and power plants combine in the presence of sunlight. Typically, ozone pollution is more of a problem during hot summer months because sunlight and warm temperatures speed up the formation of ground-level ozone.

Exposure to ground-level ozone contributes to health and environmental problems. Healthy adults can experience problems breathing, especially those who exercise or work outdoors. Children are at increased risk from exposure to ground-level ozone because their lungs are still developing. Ground-level ozone can also damage trees and agricultural crops.

Simple everyday steps can help reduce the emission of harmful ozone-causing pollutants:

· Keep vehicle tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires increase gasoline consumption.

· Use public transportation, carpool, bike or walk.

· Stop at the first click when filling up gas tanks. Overfilling can lead to gasoline spills, which allows harmful ozone-causing vapors to escape into the atmosphere.

· Do not use gas-powered lawn equipment on hot, sunny days with little or no wind. Consider waiting until early evening to mow your lawn.

· Conserve energy by turning off lights and appliances when leaving a room to reduce emissions from power plants.

· Set goals to reduce utility bills by two percent. This can save money and protect air quality.

Through ozone season, the department measures and records ozone levels from 23 air monitors across Missouri. This data is used to see if an area’s air quality meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone, currently set at 75 parts per billion. If an area monitors or contributes to violations of the ozone standard, actions must be taken to reduce the emissions that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone. The department works with affected areas to develop emission reducing measures that are the most effective in terms of cost and emission reductions.

Thanks to the emission reducing efforts of Missouri residents and businesses, many areas in the state have shown improvement with controlling ozone levels. But, even with these successes, ground-level ozone remains a challenge.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a more protective eight-hour average ozone standard. This new standard is expected to fall within the range of 60 to 70 parts per billion of ozone and will be finalized this summer.

Ozone monitoring data for ozone season is available from the Missouri Air Quality Data System on the department's website at dnr.mo.gov/AQDS/index.do. For more information on ozone, call the department's Air Pollution Control Program at 800-361-4827 or visit the department's website at dnr.mo.gov/env/apcp/ozone.htm.

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