The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) Air Quality Program has issued an orange Ozone Alert for Thursday, July 18. This alert indicates that an unhealthy level of ground-level ozone, also known as smog, is expected tomorrow in the Kansas City region.
The two most important things residents should do on Ozone Alert days are:
1. PROTECT YOUR HEALTH
Ozone pollution can cause a variety of problems in healthy adults, including chest pains, coughing, nausea, throat irritation and difficulty breathing. People who are sensitive to air pollution — such as children, seniors, and people with breathing or heart problems — should limit their exposure to outdoor air between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Everyone should consider scheduling outdoor activities before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
2. REDUCE POLLUTION
More than half of all emissions that lead to ozone pollution are caused by the daily activities of residents — such as driving, doing yard work and grilling. Residents can help reduce pollution by carpooling, taking the bus, postponing mowing and postponing refueling vehicles. Fares for regular bus routes are reduced on Ozone Alert days.
Emissions from vehicles, lawn and garden equipment, and other sources react in heat and sunlight to form ozone pollution. Other environmental factors — such as warm, sunny weather, low wind speeds and lack of rain — increase the likelihood of poor air quality.
Some amount of ozone pollution is common during typical summers in the Kansas City region, but high concentrations of ground-level ozone result in violations of the national air quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Although the region is currently in “attainment” for ground-level ozone — meaning that the area currently meets those standards — continued violations make it probable that the region will lose that status. If the EPA designates the Kansas City region as a “nonattainment” area, more stringent measures to reduce ozone pollution will be required.
MARC issues the SkyCast, the region’s daily ozone season air quality forecast, on its website and on Twitter. SkyCast information is also available via the air quality information line, 913-383-7557, and many area media outlets.