Ozone season -- cough, cough -- begins today

How nice to have cloudy weather today, which is the first day of ozone season.

Maybe it will be auspicious and we'll have fewer red alert days in the region this year for ground-level ozone, more commonly known as smog.

The stuff forms when the chemicals from fossil fuel combustion are exposed to sunlight on hot days, and it is a serious lung irritant. It can exacerbate asthma and other lung conditions, leading to lost productivity at work and school because of absences, to increased emergency room visits and even premature death.

Perhaps fittingly, the American Lung Association released it's annual State of the Air report yesterday, and while ozone pollution has lessened, this region still has problems. It ties for 16th in the nation on the list of most ozone-polluted areas. My story yesterday goes into more details.

Local ozone levels are monitored on a daily basis _ they're even predicted ahead of time _  and the public can be alerted when levels become dangerous. The Air Quality Partnership, a program of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, provides all the information at www.airqualitypartnership.org. (The prognosis is good for today and tomorrow, it shows at the moment.)

People also can sign up for alert notices on the website.

The AQP also encourages actions to reduce air pollution, such as:

• Take transit or rideshare.

• Don’t top off your gas tank. Spillage adds two tons of pollution to the air each day.

• Refuel at the end of the day. Ozone levels are highest in mid- to late-afternoon.

• Be sure to clean out your trunk, since an extra 100 pounds reduces gas mileage by up to 2% and wastes fuel.

• Trip-link when possible. Combining errands with your daily commute will save time, money, and the environment.

• Follow regular maintenance schedules for your car. A properly running vehicle emits less pollution and saves gas. Check your owner’s manual and properly inflate your tires. Properly inflated tires can improve your gas mileage up to 3.3 %. When changing your oil, use a manufacturer-recommended grade motor oil to improve fuel economy by 1-2%.

“Businesses, nonprofits, local governments, and individuals all play important roles in reducing air pollution by cutting waste, conserving energy, and making wise transportation choices,” said DVRPC’s Executive Director, Barry Seymour, in a press release. “Cooperation between people and organizations that care about the air we breathe presents our greatest opportunity to ensure cleaner air for our region.”

Continue Reading