The 2017 Ozone Season has begun, City of Wichita officials announced today during Mayor Jeff Longwell’s weekly news briefing. This is the time of year when City government’s Air Quality division monitors and predicts high ozone days for South Central Kansas. Ozone season runs March 1 through Oct. 31, and officials will issue alerts when high ozone days are expected.
Ground-level ozone is a health and environmental concern for the people in South Central Kansas. Ground-level ozone is formed when emissions from automobiles, industrial machinery, lawn and garden equipment, paints and solvents are “baked” in heat and intense sunlight. Air pollution is unhealthy for everyone, but some people are at an increased risk because of their age or existing health conditions. Sensitive groups include children, people with asthma, adults over 65 and people with chronic respiratory disease. There are nearly 300,000 people who may be sensitive to elevated ozone levels in South Central Kansas.
In addition to causing health problems, Longwell said, high ozone levels may cause the region to exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Exceeding the air quality standard could result in increased regulations and costs to businesses and the community.
When Ozone Alerts are issued, City of Wichita officials will adjust operations and ask residents businesses also to make changes to daily routines that can impact ozone levels. Actions that can reduce ozone-forming emissions on Ozone Alert days include:
• Using Wichita Transit or other public transportation;
• Reducing energy use;
• Reducing idling time at drive-thru restaurants, pharmacies, banks and railroad crossings;
• Postponing errands, mowing, painting and solvent use until after 6 p.m.; and
• Fueling up after the sun goes down instead of earlier in the day.
The community will be advised of Ozone Alert Days through the City’s Facebook page; local media outlets; the City’s web site (www.wichita.gov), Cox Cable Channel 7; the Intelligent Transportation System message boards located along major highways; Ozone Alert emails (sign up at www.wichita.gov/ozone) and by following beairawareks on Twitter and Instagram.
City officials, in conjunction with the Air Quality Improvement Task Force, are working to reduce ozone levels across South Central Kansas in Sedgwick, Sumner, Harvey and Butler counties. Local governments, businesses and nonprofits are working together to form partnerships, create action plans and implement projects that reduce ozone and improve air quality across the region. For more information, please visit – www.wichita.gov/ozone.