What color is your air?
- Good Ozone. Ozone occurs naturally in the Earth's upper atmosphere - 6 to 30 miles above the Earth's surface - where it forms a protective layer that shields us from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.
- Bad Ozone. In the Earth's lower atmosphere, near ground level, ozone is formed when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources react chemically in the presence of sunlight. Ozone at ground level is a harmful air pollutant.
The Calcasieu/Cameron area is right “on the bubble” with our numbers of Ozone. EPA defines non-attainment as 75 ppb and the Lake Charles area is sitting on 74. No doubt, we are close to being over and then EPA will be knocking at our door. We definitely want to avoid this! What will work in our favor is that EPA looks forgivingly at those communities that are trying to be more proactive and therefore we are hoping that we will avoid the hefty penalties that will be coming our way if we fall into “nonattainment” status.
On April 4, 2012, EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards announced their new voluntary Ozone Advance Program, which continues and expands EPA’s cooperative work with state, tribal, and local governments.
The objective of the Ozone Advance Program is to encourage emission reductions in ozone attainment areas to help them to continue to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
On June 25, 2012, IMCAL prepared a letter with the Notice of Intent and request to be accepted into the EPA’s Ozone Advance Program. On July 13, 2012, IMCAL received a letter from EPA indicating that the Lake Charles MSA area met the eligibility criteria and was welcomed as a participant in this innovative program.
Calcasieu/Cameron MSA has formed its own Air Quality Task Force with the lead coming from IMCAL and the Chamber of Commerce. Our focus is on how we can stay in the “attainment” category. We have the cooperation from industry, business and local governments. It is going to require assistance from the public.
We can no longer say that this is not my problem because IT IS OUR problem. High ozone numbers are due to automobiles, trucks, lawnmowers, weed eaters, other mobile sources.
“What is the AQI?
The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health .Ground-level ozone and airborne particles are the two pollutants that pose the greatest threat to human health in this country.”
“What is Enviroflash?
EnviroFlash is an electronic information system designed to communicate environmental issues to the public. EnviroFlash is a partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. It provides instant air quality information that citizens can customize for their own needs, allowing them to take steps that can protect the health of their family. It provides this information via e-mail or pager.”
To sign up for EnviroFlash notifications in the Lake Charles Area visit http://lakecharles.enviroflash.info/
Air quality forecasts are always available at www.deq.louisiana.gov
For current Air Quality information, you can to the DEQ web site at www.deq.louisiana.gov/aqinfo.
Please contact Dwight Minton @ IMCAL 433-1771 for more information or to arrange a presentation about the Ozone Advance Program for your civic group or organization.
Air Quality Levels
What this means
Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people. For example, people who are unusually sensitive to ozone may experience respiratory symptoms.
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
Although general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone, whereas persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air
Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects.
This would trigger a health alert signifying that everyone may experience more serious health effects.
375ppb & up
250.5 µ/m3& up
This would trigger health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.
To check out the air quality in your area today click here!
What can you do to help
reduce Ozone Pollutants?
Strategies to Reduce Ozone
Fleet Operation Efficiencies
· Idling Reductions
· Route Optimization
Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure
Vehicle/lawnmower replacement programs to newer, cleaner engines
Vehicle/lawnmower replacement programs to newer, cleaner engines
Engine Repowers and Rebuilds
Alternative/Renewable/Cleaner Energy in Oil and Gas Industries
Fill up vehicles before dawn or after dusk
Mow lawns less often and before dawn or after dusk
Responding to Ozone Action Days: Limit vehicle, boat, and lawnmower use
Bicycling and Walking
Public Outreach and Education
· Ozone Action Days
· Workplace Programs (www.bestworkplaces.org)
EPA Advance Program: Ozone and Particulate Matter Compliance
IMCAL is currently heading the efforts to keep the Lake Charles area MPO in Ozone and Particulate Matter Compliance and to make sure that we are in attainment of the federal regulated levels. This involves collaboration between businesses, industries, and agencies within the area. We have formed a task force to tackle these issues, and to come up with solutions. For more information on ground level ozone click here.
The task force includes several agencies and businesses located in and around the Lake Charles area. IMCAL has joined with the Alliance of Southwest Louisiana to get awareness out to the community regarding Ozone reduction. The Task Force has developed "The Path Forward Action Plan" to reduce pollution in the area. The following link discusses other ways in which you can help take action on ozone within the community: Action on Ozone
If everyone joins together to reduce the amount of emissions put out at home and in their own sphere of influence, then we will reduce the amount of ground level ozone. Working together we can make a positive impact in our community!