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Environmental Division

Phone: 913-715-6900

11811 S. Sunset Drive STE 2700, Olathe, KS 66061

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Help Reduce Ozone

grandmother and grandsonGround-level ozone impairs breathing, irritates the lungs, causes scar tissue in the lungs, and damages vegetation. Those most at risk are people with asthma, emphysema, heart conditions, as well as children, elderly, and healthy adults engaged in vigorous work or exercise outdoors. On high ozone concentration days, everyone is at risk.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set air quality standards to protect both public health and the public welfare, e. g., crops and vegetation. Ground-level ozone affects both.

The EPA website has an on-line course for health professionals titled "Ozone and Your Patients' Health" that has information everyone can use as a resource to learn about the health effects of ground-level ozone.  Click here for more.

What You Can Do to Help

Each individual contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone, as well as industrial and commercial entities, and with simple efforts, each person can help reduce the emissions of harmful pollutants. Air-friendly tips are typically money saving and time saving tips, too!

In Your Car:

  • Drive less by combining trips and planning in advance
  • Bike, walk or ride the bus when possible.
  • Keep personal vehicles well-tuned and tires inflated properly. You can save up to 20% on the amount of gasoline you use.
  • Pressure check vehicle gas caps annually and replace when necessary. A faulty gas cap can allow up to 30 gallons of fuel per year to evaporate.*
  • Refuel as late in the day as possible (after 7 pm preferably), especially on ozone alert days.
  • Stop at the click. Don't top off your tank when you refuel. This keeps harmful fumes from being forced into the air.

*Note:  A faulty gas cap can allow up to 30 gallons of fuel per year to evaporate. At today's prices which can climb over $3 per gallon, you could be wasting over $90 per year compared to a new gas cap which only costs around $10! JCDHE checks gas caps at various public events, including Earth Day at Shawnee Mission Park and at AquaFest in Olathe.

At Work:

  • Allow and promote teleconferencing instead of driving to meetings. If you must drive, carpool when possible.
  • Bring your lunch, carpool or walk to lunch, especially on ozone alert days.
  • Inquire about flexible work schedules that would promote driving less, such as the four day work week.
  • Commute in style: bike, walk, carpool or take public transportation to work. Get in some exercise, good conversation or a little reading in the process!
  • Purchase and use low-volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, solvents, pesticides, etc.
  • Select printing companies that use soy-based inks or other low-emissions print processes.

At Home:

  • Reduce the amount of energy you use at home. Most of this area's electricity comes from coal-fired power plants that significantly contribute to ground-level ozone.
  • Purchase ENERGY STAR equipment.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. Turn off lights and appliances when they are not in use.
  • Adjust the thermostat to a slightly higher setting in summer and consider installing a programmable thermostat.
  • Avoid chemicals that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as spray paint, paint thinners, glue solvents, and pesticides.

In the Yard:

  • Mow as late as possible, preferably after 7 pm, when there is less sun and heat.
  • Replace older gas cans with new "no-spill" gas cans for refueling equipment. Emissions from gasoline spills are major contributors to ozone and spilled gasoline costs you money.
  • Practice low-maintenance lawn care, requiring less frequent mowing and less inputs of polluting chemical pesticides.
  • Consider replacing any gasoline powered equipment with electric, batter or manual powered equipment.
  • Convert lawn spaces to native plants to reduce the amount of mowing and watering.
  • Avoid open burning.

On The Grill:

  • Do not use lighter fluid. It pollutes on both evaporation and burning. Your food will taste better without it, too!
  • Use a charcoal chimney instead of lighter fluid to start the coals. They are easy to use and leave no telltale taste in the food.
  • Choose briquettes that are additive-free and avoid any added chemicals flavors  to the food.
  • Gas grills emit less pollution than charcoal grills.
  • Postpone grilling until evening on ozone alert days.

 

Ozone Alert Days

SkyCast – The Daily Pollution Forecast

SkyCast is a daily pollution forecast for the Kansas City area. It predicts air quality based on weather conditions and pollution levels. SkyCast uses different colors -- green, yellow, orange and red, to indicate the day's pollution threat. The SkyCast is reported on the website for the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), in the Air Quality section of this website, in the Kansas City Star, and on the local TV weather casts. As seen in this illustration from MARC, the colors indicate how the day's air quality may affect each of us.

What does all the mean? Let's break it down:

skycast forecast explained

 

 

 

 

 

 
About Ozone Alert Days

hot day

When the SkyCast for the day indicates orange or red, it's an Ozone Alert day. On these days, ozone concentrations are expected to reach unhealthy levels.  More than half of the emissions that form ground-level ozone come from everyday activities. By reducing or postponing these activities, you can help bring the levels of ozone pollution down.

From April 1 through October 31, the SkyCast for the next day will be announced by 3:00 in the afternoon. Look for the SkyCast prediction in any of the aforementioned locations.  If the color indicator for the following day's air quality is orange or red, you should take special precautions to protect your health and reduce the amount of ground-level in the Kansas City area.

 
On Ozone Alert days, MARC advises:

  • Cut back on or reschedule strenuous outside activities. Stay indoors in a well-ventilated or air-conditioned building. If you must be active outdoors, try to schedule activity before 11:00 am or after 8:00 pm.
     
  • Drive less. Combine errands and put off less-necessary trips for a cooler day, carpool or use public transit. Bring your lunch to work.
     
  • Avoid fueling. Simply filling your vehicle with gasoline can lead to pollution as fumes escape and tiny drips and spills occur, and gas vapors react with heat and sunlight to form ozone.  If you must fill your tank, do so after dusk. And be sure to avoid "topping off" your tank.
     
  • Mow later. Lawn and garden equipment is responsible for an estimated 9% of the Kansas City area's ozone-forming emissions. Postpone yard work that involves power equipment until the Ozone Alert is over.

 
Get Notified!

You can be the first to know the Air Quality Forecast in Greater Kansas City for the next day. Even better, you can get that forecast on your media of choice: email, Twitter, iPhone and Android.   Get started today with EnviroFlash: Your Environmental News Flash

 
Get Everybody Involved!workplace discussion

Inspire your co-workers to join you in your effort to improve the Kansas City air and reduce Ozone Alert days. The Mid-America Regional Council has a program called Air Quality Workplace Partnership. Over 170 companies from all over Greater Kansas City have already joined. Start your partnership today!

 
SkyCast Posters from MARC

General Poster
Daily Posters - Green  Yellow  Orange  Red
Air Quality Awareness

En Español

Indice Calidad de Aire en Español

 

Ozone and Smog

Ground-level ozone in the Kansas City region is an air quality problem, exceeding the federal health standards at times, and causing health problems for many citizens. Johnson and  Wyandotte Counties in Kansas, and Jackson, Clay, and Platte Counties in Missouri, collectively make up the Kansas City "airshed" that is subject to air pollution regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All five counties in two states work together along with the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to monitor and evaluate sources of air pollution and work to decrease it.

There is an established "ozone season" for the Kansas City region; April 1st through October 31st every year. Historically, June through August is when most exceedences occur.

The images below show downtown Kansas City on a good ozone day (on left) and a bad ozone day.

 

 

 

 

EPA has set national air quality standards (or health limits) for six air pollutants (also referred to as "Criteria Pollutants".) These are the six criteria pollutants:

  1. lead
  2. sulfur dioxide
  3. particulate matter
  4. carbon monoxide
  5. nitrogen oxides
  6. ground-level ozone.

Find out how each of these pollutants is formed, how they affect human health and public welfare, and what is being done to reduce them at EPA's Six Common Air Pollutants. EPA is required by the Clean Air Act to periodically review the standards for each of these pollutants to insure that the standard is protective of human health and the environment. EPA is tentatively scheduled to start a review of the standard for ozone by the end of 2013.

Kansas City has historically had problems with ozone in the metro area for many years and we are still working to remain within the standard.

Ozone Movies and Maps

The EPA provides real-time animated movies of ozone levels in the metro area. While these movies aren't in the same category as "The Godfather," "True Grit" or "Saving Private Ryan", they are still worth watching.

Ozone movies use real-time air monitoring data to show the Air Quality Index (AQI) which is the ozone air pollution levels throughout the region. Most of the time you will notice ozone forming in the urban area and then moving "out of town" by the afternoon. However, on some occasions. The ozone is being transported from one area to another area when it is actually forming at different rates in the two areas. You can also view yesterday's ozone levels as well. To understand what is really being shown in the ozone movies you must take into account differences in ozone formation rates in different areas as well as transport by varying wind speeds and directions at all times of the day.

There are several views of the map of the United States: the ozone forecast, the current AQI, AQI animation, and more. To get a closer look, click on Kansas or whatever state you're interested in viewing.

EPA's Ozone Maps

But Wait!  There's More...

The Missouri of Natural Resources has movies shot from the Kansas City Air Pollution Camera that is situated on top of the Blue Ridge Mall Office Building in Independence. The movies show the air quality above the Kansas City skyline. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page for an explanation of what you are seeing in the videos.

The Kansas City Air Pollution Camera

 

 

Upcoming Events

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October 8, 2016 | 8:00 am to 11:30 am

Household Hazardous Waste & Electronic Recycling Event

November 9, 2016 | 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Solid Waste Management Committee Meeting