FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the revised Ground-Level Ozone standard today. The Springfield region is officially 68 ppb, though the values are expected to be 61 ppb once the 2013-2015 readings are certified. This information is intended to assist media with localized information.
The Ground-Level Ozone standard is a standard established by EPA under the Clean Air Act of the early 1970’s. Under that law, EPA is required to periodically review the existing standards in light of new research information gained in the years between reviews regarding the effects of ground-level ozone on human health and the environment. Download graphic.
The Ozone standard was last revised in 2008 to a level of 75 parts per billion. EPA has proposed a new standard of 70 parts per billion. This is calculated on a three-year rolling average and, while our 2013-2015 readings are still preliminary, as of Sept. 30, they appear to be at 61 parts per billion.
Springfield/Greene County is currently “in attainment,” or is meeting that standard. A designation of “non-attainment” would mean the region is out of compliance. Usually there are levels of severity determined with a non-attainment designation. This determines the level of impact non-attainment can have on a region. Being in non-attainment places new requirements on a region and can require additional study before expanding or adding certain types of new businesses and roadway capacity. Once an area is non-attainment, even achieving the standards brings a 20-year maintenance plan before a region can exit the non-attainment program.
Though not all pollution can be seen, it can create harmful effects on the human body. The elderly, children, and other vulnerable populations feel the effects of air pollution much greater than the general population. There is a fact sheet from the EPA in your handouts that further details impacts on hospital visits due to changes in pollution levels. Download graphic.
Local sources of ozone
Ozone is a bit complex. Ozone high in the atmosphere is beneficial. It shields the earth from harmful rays from the sun. Download graphic.
However, at ground level, ozone can have a negative impact on both human and plant health. Ground-level ozone is not emitted from a single source, rather, it is the formed by the interaction of several pollutants reacting with heat, especially over the course of the day. Download graphic.
This is why levels are higher during the summer months. Contributors, nitrous oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), accumulate during the day, and as things get warmer throughout the day, these elements combine to form ozone. This is why many ozone-related prevention strategies may mention changing evening activities.
There are also some natural and seemingly innocuous sources that can contribute to the formation of ground level ozone. When coupled with well-known pollutants, these can add difficulty to the task of preserving good air quality. For example, in our region, mobile sources (automobiles, buses, trucks, inboard/outboard motors and other gasoline-powered engines account for nearly half of all contributing emissions and are considered our “primary sources.” Download graphic.
Proactive steps under way
Springfield, Greene County and City Utilities of Springfield have been taking steps proactively for a number of years to protect our air quality and avoid nonattainment status for ground-level ozone, including being founding members of the Ozarks Clean Air Alliance (OCAA).
Formed in 2007, OCAA currently serves an 11-county region. OCAA started in 2007 as a subcommittee of the Environmental Collaborative at the Community Partnership of the Ozarks and has grown into an active coalition of various stakeholders, including City, County, and State government officials, local businesses and non-profits, area utility companies, and interested citizens.
OCAA has produced Clean Air Action Plan, first adopted in 2009 and originally addressing only ground level ozone pollutant concerns. Over the past few years, the plan and the efforts of the OCAA have grown to include particulate matter (another regulated pollutant). The Clean Air Action Plan now serves as the Path Forward Document for both proactive EPA Ozone Advance and Particulate Matter (PM) Advance Programs.
Role of City Utilities of Springfield
Typically, coal-fired power plants are major contributors to ground level ozone; however, in Springfield, City Utilities has made great strides in reducing their emissions in the region. Download graphic
Mobile and industrial sources, including utility boilers, emit NOx and VOC emissions that are precursors to ozone formation under specific atmospheric conditions. City Utilities and its customers have invested in air quality in the region by significantly reducing its emissions.
CU has helped the Springfield-Greene County region meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) while power generation and customer demand has continued to increase. Since 1988, as federal regulatory pressures move the goalposts, CU has decreased its overall emissions by nearly 82% with power generation requirements increasing over 80%.
Additionally, CU and its customers have invested over $150 million in emission control technology and currently has purchased power agreements in place totaling $10 million that include wind and solar generation.
Other preventative activities performed by OCAA member organizations
• Development and implementation approved formal and non-formal educational materials for air quality education, including teachers’ workshops.
• Website development/management: showmecleanair.com.
• Management of a regional rides-haring program for both employers and the general public or ozarkscommute.com.
• Coordination with Missouri Department of Transportation to utilize electronic road signs
• Support of the local municipally-owned utility air quality protection efforts, including promotion of solar power.
• Support of the region’s continued build-out of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, which boasts over 100 miles of trails, and a goal of 10 miles of new sidewalk each year.
• Inclusion of air quality protection efforts as a component of the Ozarks GreenScore voluntary sustainability program which rates and provides technical assistance to local businesses.
• Local participation in the Missouri PACE (Property Assessed Clean
Energy) program providing funding sources for energy efficiency capital improvements.
• Promotion of a model no-idle policy for local governments and businesses.
• Support of the City of Springfield Air Quality protection program following loss of state funding for local regulatory efforts, including Stage One Vapor Recovery requirements.
• Securing EPA Diesel Emission Reduction Assistance (DERA) grants used to retrofit and or replace school buses, diesel trucks and related vehicles.
The citizens and visitors who enjoy living and recreating in our region value our clean and healthy environment. As a part of the larger community, we are constantly working to balance the protection of our natural environment with the costs associated with those efforts.
As we have seen in our water quality protection efforts, we tend to be ahead of many areas in the country in that our public infrastructure is in place, leaving additional gains to be made to come from the “smaller” or “nonpoint” sources. In the case of air quality, those sources are our cars, trucks, even lawn mowers. In order for us to continue to meet or exceed standards and to continue to protect the health of our citizens and our environment, the entire community must pitch in.
Awareness of air quality as a potential environmental/health concern tends to be rather low, in part, because we do have good quality air; however, it is not without effort and expense that we are in this preferred position and it will take continued effort and expense to continue to enjoy this most precious of resources.
For more information
• Receive daily air quality level predictions: enviroflash.info.
• Missouri Department of Natural Resources Air Quality Program Web site: dnr.mo.gov.
• U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Ozone Web site: epa.gov/air.
• Ozarks Clean Air Alliance: showmecleanair.com. Contact: Natasha Longpine, 417-865-3042 x103 or Barbara Lucks, 417-864-2005.
• City Utilities of Springfield: cityutilities.net. Contact: Joel Alexander, 417-831-8902.
• Ozarks Transportation Organization: ozarkstransportation.org. Contact: Natasha Longpine, 417-865-3042 x103.
• City of Springfield Dept. of Environmental Services – Air Quality Section: springfieldmo.gov/airquality. Contact: Brian Adams, 417-864-1412.
• Real-time air quality readings: airnow.gov
Media contact: Barbara Lucks, Sustainability Officer, City of Springfield – 864-2005 [email protected]