Summer Ozone Season Begins June 1 | Environment
Residents asked to pledge ozone-reducing behaviors
June 1 marks the official start of ozone season in the Denver Metro/Northern Front Range area. The season will last through the summer months until Aug. 31.
The Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC) is kicking off the eighth year of its Ozone Aware campaign by asking residents to join its Clean Air Community and pledge certain ozone-reducing behaviors throughout the summer. The RAQC asks citizens to help reduce ozone by taking actions such as driving less, taking transit, and mowing their lawns after 5 p.m. on hot summer days.
Ground level ozone pollution forms when emissions from gas-powered vehicles and lawn equipment, industrial and chemical processes, and even household activities react with heat and sunlight. The highest ozone levels usually occur in summer months when temperatures approach the high 80s and 90s and when the wind is stagnant or light. During the 2012 ozone season, the RAQC issued high ozone alerts for 36 out of 92 days.
Ozone can trigger attacks and symptoms in people with pre-existing health conditions such as asthma or other respiratory diseases. High levels of ozone pollution may also affect healthy people who work or exercise outdoors; and it can cause breathing difficulties, eye irritation and reduced resistance to lung infections and colds with exposure for prolonged periods.
The Denver Metro/North Front Range region fell out of compliance with the federal standard for ozone pollution in 2007 and 2008, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently given the Denver Metro Area/North Front Range region until 2015 to meet the 2008 federal standard. Local residents, businesses and industry can help by making voluntary changes in their behavior to reduce ozone and bring the area back into compliance.
“Individual residents can collectively make a significant impact on the region’s air quality,” said Ken Lloyd, executive director of the RAQC. “We’re asking everyone to pledge to commit to ozone-reducing actions and behaviors throughout the summer. Every action counts.”
The RAQC works with meteorologists from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) to issue Ozone Action Alerts on days when ground-level ozone is forecasted to reach unhealthy levels.
Residents can sign up to receive action alerts and pledge to the Clean Air Community at www.ozoneaware.org.
Those who pledge to take certain voluntary actions to reduce ozone will be entered to win prizes such as bicycles, electric lawn mowers and Rockies tickets throughout the summer months.
Here are some of the actions Denver Metro/Northern Front Range residents can take to reduce ground-level ozone:
- Drive less – walk or ride your bike when you can, group errands, take public transit and carpool whenever possible.
- Mow in the evening after 5 p.m.
- Refuel in the evening after 5 p.m.
- “Stop at the click” – do not overfill gas tanks when refueling.
- Keep vehicles regularly maintained.
- Tighten gas caps after refueling.
- Use new, earth-friendly lawn equipment.
- Avoid solvent-based products; use water-based paint, stain and sealants.
- Make a smart vehicle choice – choose hybrid, electric or more fuel-efficient vehicles when purchasing or renting a car.
- Avoid idling and drive-thru lines – turn off your engine and go inside.
- Sign up for Ozone Action Alerts.
- Take the Clean Air Community Pledge.
The Ozone Aware — Let’s Take Care of Our Summer Air program issues ozone alerts, engages residents and stakeholders, and shares tips and information about ozone and ozone reduction via the following:
- Website - www.ozoneaware.org
- Facebook - Regional Air Quality Council – Ozone Aware
- Twitter - @OzoneAware
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