What Is Ozone

Ozone is a toxic gas that is formed by a reaction between air pollutants and sunlight. While the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere protects you from the sun’s most damaging rays, ozone near the ground is a health hazard. Ground-level ozone affects the respiratory system and can be especially harmful to the very young, the very old, and persons with chronic lung disease. Although we have some control over pollutants, we have no

control over the heat and sunlight that turn pollutants into ozone. The biggest contributing factor (50%) to ozone pollution is from mobile sources utilizing combustion engines (e.g., personal cars, lawn mowers, etc.).

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Ozone (O3) Molecule

Ozone In Our Area

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has classified the Greater Cincinnati Area (comprised of four southern Ohio counties, three northern Kentucky counties and one Indiana county) as a moderate non-attainment area. Ozone is the only pollutant that the Greater Cincinnati Area is having difficulty in maintaining at an acceptable level.

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Indiana

Ohio

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Kentucky

If the area exceeds the ozone standard one more time, it will be upgraded to a serious non-attainment status and sanctions will follow. Possible sanctions include:

  • Mandated carpooling and trip reduction programs, largely at the employer’s expense.
  • Many small facilities would be classified as “major sources” of air pollutants and therefore be subject to expanded permit and recordkeeping requirements and emission reductions.
  • Requiring emissions to be reduced before expansion of a company would be allowed.
  • Cost increases through emission controls, fees, equipment, etc., which may deter new companies from locating in this area and may cause existing companies to relocate.

Increased regulation will adversely affect business through added compliance costs, which in turn affects the consumer through increased utility rates and price of products, decreased job benefits and salary, and a narrowed job market. In addition, the area might expect to see a cut in federal funding for highway projects or eight- to ten-year delays in proposed projects which could also affect the region’s economic growth.

What You Can Do

Although our area has exceeded the acceptable ozone level only by a small amount, the 1990 Clean Air Act does not allow for any leeway when determining a region’s status. However, since the excess is very small, individual efforts can collectively make a big difference. We are being asked to actively participate in implementing short-term restrictions whenever there is an Ozone Watch. Watches occur in the summer months until Labor Day between the hours of 8 AM to 7 PM on hot, sunny days when ozone levels tend to escalate. The following ideas can help reduce ozone levels in our area:

  • Adjust your thermostat to reduce power demands.
  • Turn off lights, computers, radios, and televisions when not in use.
  • Combine trips and limit unnecessary trips.
  • Keep your vehicle properly maintained.
  • Avoid using gasoline-powered lawn equipment between noon and 7 PM.
  • Avoid using oil-based paints and stains between noon and 7 PM.
  • Refuel autos in the evenings and avoid spilling fuel.