The following article came from the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Planning Agency Oct. 1, 2015.
Omaha, NE-Oct. 1, 2015 – The Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area meets the new ground-level ozone standard released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA announced this afternoon that it strengthened the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb) from 75 ppb to protect public health. The Douglas County Health Department monitors ground-level ozone for the region and reports the area is in compliance with the new standard.
In recent years, ozone levels in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area have ranged in the upper 60s, though it does rise into the 70s range at times. The Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) coordinates “Little Steps. Big Impact,” an ozone education and awareness program aimed at helping mitigate the ozone problem in the metro area.
“The new national air quality standard for ozone means it is all the more important that the metro area continues to work to retain its clean air status both for the competitive advantage it provides and for the health of residents,” said Greg Youell, MAPA Executive Director.
Some of the “Little steps” citizens are asked to do to help reduce ground-level ozone include:
1. Driving less by biking, walking, taking public transit, and carpooling
2. Refueling at dusk or nighttime to avoid greater loss of fuel through evaporation
3. Choosing cleaner-burning fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel
4. Not idling a vehicle for more than 30 seconds
5. Capping all paints, solvents, and cleaners
6. Using electric or manual lawn equipment when possible, or using it during cooler hours of the day
Elevated ozone concentrations could pose a risk to the health of those with chronic respiratory problems, such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, and could carry greater regulatory consequences for the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area if it does not meet federal air quality standards.
Ground-level ozone is formed when several common airborne pollutants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), react with sunlight and heat. Vehicle exhaust and petroleum evaporative loss are the largest source of these pollutants. For more information, visit littlestepsbigimpact.com or www.douglascountyhealth.com.