To educate our community about the economic, environmental and health impacts of high ozone levels and encourage citizens to take appropriate actions to reduce those levels.
- To educate our community about the risks and consequences of increased ozone levels.
- To increase community awareness of how personal actions can increase ozone levels.
- To promote personal activities that reduce ozone levels in our community.
What is Ozone?
Ozone is a colorless, odorless gas. Good ozone is found in our upper atmosphere, 10 to 30 miles above the earth. It is here that ozone protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Ozone at ground level is a pollutant sometimes called smog. Smog is created when the sun’s rays react chemically with exhaust from vehicles; small gasoline engines and vapors from oil based products.
Why Should We be Concerned?
Ground level ozone is regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) as an air pollutant because it can harm human health and the environment. In high concentrations, ozone may irritate the respiratory system causing throat irritation, coughing and/or difficulty in breathing. Our lungs’ ability to supply our bodies with oxygen is reduced. This is particularly a concern for children, asthmatics and other sensitive individuals.
The effect of high ozone levels in excess of USEPA regulations will have an adverse economic impact on our community as well. Currently Allen County is “in attainment” of the air quality standard for ozone. However, based on our history of air monitoring, we would no longer be “in attainment” with the stricter air quality standards being proposed in Washington, D. C. If ozone standards are violated, the cost to our community could reach well into the millions of dollars.
- mandatory automobile emissions testing and vapor control programs can be required
- the cost to gas stations for installing expensive vapor recovery systems will negatively impact fuel prices
- businesses may become wary of starting or expanding in Allen County because of stricter USEPA sanctions
- federal highway dollars could be reduced for road projects here
An “OZONE ALERT” will be issued by the Allen County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) when environmental conditions are favorable for ozone emissions to exceed acceptable standards as established by the USEPA and state authorities.
A committee of meteorologists and others will monitor conditions throughout the ozone season of April – September and advise the EMA when conditions have the potential to reach a serious level.
“OZONE ALERTS” will be issued between 2:00-2:30 p.m. on the day before the anticipated high ozone day.
What is an Ozone Alert?
An “OZONE ALERT” day is an emergency situation that asks businesses and individuals to curtail certain activities that contribute to ozone formation during the alert period.
Weather is a key factor in determining when an “OZONE ALERT” is issued. If the forecast calls for an unusually hot, calm and sunny day, conditions could be ideal for the production of ozone. The positive actions we take during this time can greatly improve our quality of life in Allen County, as well as, help us maintain established ozone standards.
The Ozone Committee
The Allen County Ozone Action Committee is a joint committee of the Allen County Environmental Citizens Advisory Committee and the Allen County Hazardous Materials Emergency Planning Committee. The committee is chaired by the county Emergency Management Agency director.
What can I do?
The following are some simple ways that everyone can help control the production of ozone:
- Refuel vehicles AFTER 6:00 PM on “Ozone Alert” days and do not “top off” the tank. Vapors escape from the nozzle while refueling and cool fuel from underground tanks expands in your gas tank releasing vapors that react with the heat to produce ozone.
- Parking your vehicle in the shade can also prevent fuel from evaporating.
- Replacing any missing or improperly fitting gas caps to prevent fuel vapors from escaping from the fuel tank.
- On short trips, walk or ride a bicycle.
- Try to limit driving. Car pool with friends to work, school or meetings.
- Put off using your gas powered lawn mower until after the “Ozone Alert”.
- Avoid painting outdoors with oil based paints.
- Avoid cooking out over charcoal during “Ozone Alert” periods.