With the annual ozone season
starting on Friday, Mayor Jeff Longwell said new federal guidelines designed to
protect air quality will require citizens and businesses to work together to
develop action plans, reduce emissions, and avoid millions in federal penalties.
High ozone levels especially
affect the health of sensitive groups including youth, asthmatics, seniors, and
those with chronic respiratory disease. There are nearly 300,000 people
residing in South Central Kansas who may be sensitive to elevated ozone levels.
for citizens to help reduce emissions and for businesses to collaborate with
local government and other regional stakeholders on ozone action plans,”
Longwell said on Thursday morning during his weekly news briefing at City Hall.
He added that exceeding the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) -
which is set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - could result in
increased regulations and cost the region tens of millions of dollars.
Local and regional air quality
officials are educating residents and engaging stakeholders on the effort to
reduce ozone-forming emissions across South Central Kansas. Officials are
assisting with developing ozone action plans in Sedgwick, Sumner, Harvey and
Butler counties, said Baylee Cunningham, the City’s Air Quality Specialist.
“Plans will produce measurable
outcomes that will be reported to the EPA,” Cunningham said. “Reducing
emissions will help maintain compliance with the new standard and with getting
the region back into compliance should the area have a high ozone season.”
During the ozone season, which
runs April 1 through Oct. 31, the City of Wichita’s Air Quality Division
monitors and predicts high ozone days for South Central Kansas. Ozone alerts
will be issued on electronic message boards along strategic commuter routes and
via social media when high ozone days are expected. When ozone alerts are
issued, City officials will adjust local government operations and ask
residents and businesses to change daily habits that affect ozone levels.
Actions that can reduce ozone-forming emissions on Ozone Alert days include:
- Using Wichita Transit or other public
- Reducing energy use;
- Reducing idling time at drive-thru restaurants,
pharmacies, banks and railroad crossings;
- Postponing errands, mowing, painting and
solvent use until after 6PM and;
- Fueling up after the sun goes down instead of
earlier in the day.
To develop and implement an
Ozone Action Plan, Please contact Baylee Cunningham at 268-8351 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
For more information visit – www.wichita.gov/ozone.