“We generally consider the ozone ‘season’ to be April Fool’s Day to Halloween,” according to David Grimes, Deputy Director of the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission. This year will, according to Grimes, be the deciding factor to determine whether or not one or more southeast Missouri Counties will be designated as nonattainment areas for ground-level ozone. The implications of such a designation can be far reaching.
High temperatures, clear skies and calm days combined last year to push the regions monitors above allowable levels of ozone. “If the decision was made today,” Grimes said, “we would have at least one county, and probably more designated as nonattainment areas.” He added that the next review of the standards by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled for 2013 and so the 2013 ozone season will be included in the final evaluation. The Regional Planning Commission is trying to get all citizens in the area to help hold the ozone levels down.
Ozone is not normally created directly. Rather, Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), called “ozone precursors,” combine in the air on warm sunny days to produce ozone. The precursors are generated by industrial and commercial operations but also by the everyday activities of people. “Just being careful filling up your car can make a big difference,” Grimes said.
The Regional Planning Commission will be releasing a series of suggestions to help citizens understand what they can do. They have also established a twitter account and invite you to follow @SEMOAir1. The Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission’s Facebook page will also have information about ozone and what can be done to hold it down.
Learn more about ozone levels and what you can do at airnow.gov.