Ground-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.
- 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.
- 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.