On March 12, 2008 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new standard for ground-level ozone. The new standard is 75ppb (parts per billion) for both the primary (health related) and secondary (environmental) standards. The current ozone level in the Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is 69ppb based on the readings for the years 2007-2009. The Springfield MSA will continue working on reducing ground-level ozone forming activities to remain in attainment with the ozone standard.
A collaborative group called the Ozarks Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) is currently working on a Clean Air Action Plan that encourages businesses to reduce emissions and encourages the public to take small steps that, united, will make a big difference.
Ozone is an air pollutant formed by chemical reactions involving nitrogen oxides, reactive hydrocarbons, and sunlight. Commonly referred to as "smog", ozone is a powerful respiratory irritant that can cause coughing, shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, and lung damage. Children, the elderly, those with respiratory ailments, and people who exercise outdoors are especially susceptible to its effects. Ozone can also reduce crop yields and cause damage to rubber, plastics, and many common building materials.
There are two types of ozone in our atmosphere. There is the "good ozone" found in the upper atmosphere (stratosphere) that helps protect us from the sun's ultraviolet rays, and there is the "bad ozone", or ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone is listed by EPA as a Criteria Pollutant and can cause adverse health effects.
What can I do to reduce ground-level ozone?
- Your Yard and Clean Air
- Your Car and Clean Air: What You Can Do to Reduce Pollution
- Tips to Save Gas and Improve Mileage
What is an ozone action day?
Ozone action days are announced when the AQI is forecast to be "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups", or Code Orange. In this case, the groups that are sensitive to the pollutant should reduce exposure by reducing prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. This would include: children and adults who are active outdoors, and people with lung disease, such as asthma. The Ozone Action Day will not only include health advisory information, but will also include information encouraging the public to take measures to reduce ozone on that day. Such measures could include: carpooling, riding the bus, filling up with gas after 6p or mowing your lawn after 6p. These actions can help reduce pollutants that are responsible for generating ozone.