Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 11:55am
The Dane County Clean Air Coalition (DCCAC) today announced that the first Clean Air Action Day of the 2012 summer ozone season is tomorrow, Thursday, June 28th. A Clean Air Action Day for ozone lets people know that ozone could reach an unhealthy level especially for children, older adults, people with asthma and adults engaged in vigorous outdoor activities. Clean Air Action Days also remind people of simple actions they can take to improve the air we all breathe.
DCCAC has not issued an ozone Clean Air Action Day since the summer of 2007 when four action days were called. The lack of summer air action alerts for the past five years is the result of improving air quality and weather conditions not conducive to ozone formation.
"Clean Air Action Days are a voluntary way for government agencies, businesses and residents in Dane County to do their share for cleaner air," said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. "As Dane County continues to grow, we should act to keep our air healthy."
"Everyone has a stake in keeping our air clean and safe," said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. "Clean Air Action Days make it easy for the entire community to take meaningful steps toward better air quality."
During tomorrow's Clean Air Action Day, government agencies, businesses and citizens will be asked to do their share for cleaner air and the health of local residents by engaging in ozone-reducing
activities. DCCAC organizations will activate their Clean Air Action Day response plans to help protect air quality and help ensure that Dane County continues to comply with all federal air quality standards.
A Clean Air Action Day is called when Department of Natural Resources meteorologists notify the DCCAC that weather conditions may produce high levels of ozone on the following day. Nearly one-half of Dane County's ozone-causing pollutants come from our cars and trucks, as well as other gasoline and diesel engines that power everything from construction equipment to lawn mowers. Power plants burning fossil fuels and smaller businesses that use ozone-generating materials such as paints
and solvents also contribute to the problem.
What is Ozone?
Ozone in the upper atmosphere is a good thing, protecting the earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. But, ozone found close to the earth's surface, or ground-level ozone, is a key component of smog and a harmful pollutant (i.e., ozone is "good up high, but bad nearby").
Clean Air Action Days occur on hot days with lots of sun and little or no wind when pollutants (volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx)) "cook" in the hot sunlight to form ground-level ozone. The major sources of VOCs and NOx include:
-Cars, trucks and buses
-Gasoline storage, transfer and refueling
-Large utility and industrial facilities
-Industrial use of solvents and degreasing agents
-Off-road engines such as construction equipment, aircraft, locomotives, boats and lawn & garden equipment
What You Can Do to Reduce Ozone
Because half of all Dane County's ozone-forming pollutants come from everyday activities like driving a car, refueling a vehicle, or mowing the lawn, area residents can play an important role in reducing emissions. Actions that citizens can take on a Clean Air Action Day to reduce the likelihood of ozone formation include:
-Ride the Metro Transit bus to work or join a car/vanpool:
-Don't let your vehicle idle. It gets 0 MPG!
-Combine errands and reduce trips.
-Reschedule or delay lawn mowing using gas-powered equipment until after 6 p.m.
-Refuel your car after dusk if possible.
-Conserve energy at home and work by reducing air conditioning and turning off unnecessary lighting.
For more information on Clean Air Action Days, visit the Dane County Clean Air Coalition website at www.healthyairdane.org. To receive daily emails about the day's current air quality and the next day's air quality forecast, subscribe to AIRNow at http://www.enviroflash.info/signup.cfm.
- Dave Merritt, Dane County Dept. of Administration608-261-9792