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No Joke – Poor Air Quality Could Be in the Forecast

Ohio Environmental Council, April 8, 2013

Ozone season starts April 1.

The official season for ozone pollution (smog) in Ohio runs April 1 through October.

“What you can’t see can very much hurt or kill you. Don’t be a fool when it comes to ozone pollution prevention awareness,” says David R. Celebrezze, director of air and water special projects at the Ohio Environmental Council. “Despite much progress, we must strive to make improvements in our air quality.”

Ozone pollution is formed when volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides cook in the long, hot days of summer. Sources of NOx and VOCs include factories, power plants, foundries, cars, trucks, and buses.

According to medical researchers, ozone can:

  • Make it more difficult to breathe deeply and vigorously.
  • Cause shortness of breath and pain when taking a deep breath.
  • Cause coughing and a sore or scratchy throat.
  • Inflame and damage the airways.
  • Aggravate lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.
  • Increase the frequency of asthma attacks.
  • Make the lungs more susceptible to infection.
  • Continue to damage the lungs even when the symptoms have disappeared.

Smog has an impact on our environment. According to the U.S. EPA, ozone clouds natural vistas, interrupts plant processes, and have the same respiratory impacts on wildlife as on humans. Smog can decrease the species diversity and change nutrient makeup in water cycles.

Those most at risk include:

  • The elderly
  • Children
  • Those with respiratory ailments
  • Those working or exercising outside during the hottest part of the day

There are steps that the individual can do to limit their exposure to harmful ozone pollution.  

Steps include:

  • Reducing car idling.
  • Taking public transportation.
  • Keeping their car in good working order.
  • Fill up after 6 p.m.
  • Ride a bike.
  • Use less electricity.
  • Don’t burn wood or trash.
  • Check the air quality forecast.
  • Stay informed on air quality related issues at the local, state, and federal level by signing up for OEC’s action alerts: www.theOEC.org/TakeActionCenter.

Local governments should:

  • Adopt no-idling ordinances.
  • Adopt clean construction provisions for public works contracts.
  • Start (or continue) educational programs to promote air quality awareness in the community.
  • Retrofit, repower, or replace older vehicles.
  • Adopt complete street policies.

State government should:

  • Adopt an “e-check” program for on road diesel trucks.
  • Reinvest in truck stop electrification.
  • Increase funding of the Diesel Emission Reduction Grant to $100 million a year for five years.
  • Adopt no-idling laws similar to the one adopted in Illinois. 
  • Team up with metropolitan planning organizations and nonprofits to educate the public on ozone pollution prevention and steps to reduce resident’s exposure.
  • Adopt strong air regulations on fracking operations. 
  • Invest heavily in non-highway modes of transportation (for example: rail).