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Mayor Urges Community to Take Action on Ozone

3/31/2016
Contact: Baylee Cunningham, Air Quality |

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.

“It’s important 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 transportation;
  • Carpooling;
  • 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 bcunningham@wichita.gov.

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.​​​​​

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