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The area covered by an Ozone Alert! for Tulsa is the area that would be designated non-attainment by the EPA if the standard is violated. We consider that area to be our 'air shed'. It is at minimum, Tulsa County and portions of Creek, Osage, Rogers, and Wagoner Counties. We also define this area as the Tulsa Transportation Management Area—the regional transportation planning area; However, through negotiations with EPA, this area would be appropriately expanded or contracted. The Clean Air Act defines the default starting-place for the potential non-attainment area to be the Tulsa Metropolitan Statistical Area which is all of Tulsa County and seven surrounding counties.
Yes! Absolutely! Importantly! Owasso and the communities surrounding Tulsa are considered the Tulsa area air shed. Ozone Alert! Days are called to 'clear the air' and hopefully continue to maintain the EPA ozone standard. If we violate the standard, EPA would place us on the 'dirty air list', officially termed in non-attainment. Should any one of the five air shed monitors violate the EPA ozone standard, the area designated non-attainment would be at minimum all the metro area and communities including Tulsa county and surrounding portions of Creek, Osage, Rogers, and Wagoner Counties (Owasso and many more communities surrounding Tulsa). The Clean Air Act, by default language, gives EPA authority to designate non-attainment the full Tulsa Metropolitan Statistical Area—which is ALL 8 counties including and surrounding Tulsa county.
A non-attainment designation would mean that a plan to reduce the emissions to an acceptable level would have to be made, submitted to EPA for approval, then implemented. This is called a State Implementation Plan (SIP), and often takes three or more years to develop. It is likely that the cost of planning and implementation would be paid by the citizens of the area and the state. Exactly who would pay and how much would depend on the plan. More specifically, it would depend on the degree (or how much) of 'dirty air' we have. It is safe to say it would not be FREE to those of us who live here.
EPA has revised the national ozone standard three times—the last in October of 2015. The new standard is calculated by averaging data over a three year time period. This average is taken from the fourth highest (eight-hour average) at each monitor. A violation occurs when the 3-year average (of the 4th highest value) is greater than .070 ppm.
The Tulsa area is in compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Ozone and is designated attainment.
The EPA's national ozone standard is considered to be "exceeded" when any one monitor records an 8-hour ozone average greater than .070 ppm. This corresponds to an Air Quality Index (AQI) of higher than 100, which means unhealthy air. Exceedances may occur throughout the ozone season, however an area is not considered to have "violated" the standard unless/until the 3-year average of ozone (specifically of the 4th highest readings) is greater than .070 ppm (see the Ozone Standard and the Score Card for more information).
Ozone Alert! is a voluntary eposodic education and outreach program first developed right here in the Tulsa region. Many programs all around the country
have since been patterned after Tulsa's successful program!
People in the Tulsa area have been taking Ozone Alert! action since 1991, when the program was developed to maintain Tulsa's clean air status.
The Ozone Alert! Program predicts days when weather and other conditions may cause unhealthy air pollution and asks people to do what they can do
to reduce ozone-forming emissions on those days. Ozone Alert! Days are forecast no later than 4PM, for the following day. The advance prediction allows
the community to take voluntary measures to reduce ground-level ozone formation which helps to clear the air we breathe and keep us maintaining
the EPA's ozone standard.
It depends on where it is. Ozone at ground level can certainly be a health problem. Prolonged breathing of high ozone levels can cause lung problems and eye irritation. Ozone can trigger asthma attacks and is especially a concern for children, the elderly and people with respiratory conditions like COPD. People who work, exercise, or play strenuously outdoors are particularly at risk. In the stratosphere, the ozone layer acts as a shield protecting us from harmful ultraviolet rays. One way to think about ozone is that it is Good Up High but Bad Nearby. The two 'ozones' don't mix and stratospheric ozone is not what the Ozone Alert! Program is about. The Ozone Alert! program is about taking action to help clear our air of emissions that form ground-level ozone - - to protect public health.
Ozone Alert! Season for the Tulsa area, generally speaking, runs May through September. However, since ground-level ozone problems are triggered by hot windless sun-intense weather patterns, an Ozone Alert! Day could happen earlier than May or later than September.
The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality forecasts Ozone Alert! Days using EPA and National Weather Service computer modeled simulations. Ground-level ozone forecasting takes into account pre-cursor emissions build-up, temperature, wind speed and direction and cloud cover. Ozone transport from other areas is also considered in the forecasting.
The INCOG Air Quality Stakeholder Group consists of members from local governments, business, industry, health and environmental agencies throughout our region concerned with improving air quality thereby maintaining compliance with the national air quality standards. The group has been actively meeting since 1991, providing direction and support for our voluntary clean air strategies.
Fuel that has reduced RVP (Reid Vapor Pressure) evaporates more slowly and emits less ozone-forming emissions into the air. It is one of many different types of reformulated gasoline blends used by nonattainment areas in the summer months to help control ozone levels. Thanks to our refiner, supplier and retailer stakeholders, the Tulsa Area had a voluntarily provided low RVP summer gasoline program that actually began in the early 1990's. From 2001 through the summer of 2012, Tulsa area fuel stakeholders voluntarily provided a 7.8 psi RVP gasoline. The resulting dramatically lower ozone levels indicate the importance this program had to improving regional air quality. Technology improvements in vehicle engines and fuel formulations have vastly improved emissions from transportation sources over the past decade, allowing for the voluntary fuel program's suspension in 2013.
Yes! Some studies suggest that mowing with a gasoline-powered lawn mower for one hour produces as much ozone-causing hydrocarbons as 10-hours of driving a late model car.
Ground-level ozone is formed when the sun makes certain emissions turn into ozone—over time—usually one or several hours of time. Putting your ozone-forming emissions into the air in the early hours before daybreak, (by filling your gas tank or mowing the lawn in the early morning) means those emissions will be prime several hours later for making ozone in the sunlight! In the evening when the sun starts to set, less solar energy and less time is available make ozone. Also, evening winds often increase to help dissipate emissions overnight even more. Often, evening winds may increase as well, allowing emissions to somewhat dissipate over night.
Well, no. Industry is well-regulated and as emission reduction technologies become available, industry most often embraces these too as lower emissions generally means more efficiency. People, however, tend to live and pollute much more freely. Generally speaking, 50% of our ozone forming emissions come from the every-day activities of people. And working together, it's reducing those 'people polluting activities' that can make the most difference on Ozone Alert! Days.
It's true that ground-level ozone is one of the toughest pollution problems to control—especially since so much of it is caused by uncontrollable weather conditions. Rather than looking to what can't be controlled, we can take voluntary actions that really do help clear the air! Easy everyday actions like driving less or waiting to refuel on Ozone Alert! Days is proven to make a difference. Working together, the Tulsa Metro area has dramatically improved our air quality AND maintained compliance with the EPA's ozone standard.
Everyone breathes—and everyone deserves clean air. The Ozone Alert! Program helps to keep the air clean for everyone who lives, works and breathes in the Tulsa area. Continuing to clear our air and maintain the EPA ozone standard is also important to our economic health. By taking no cost or low cost voluntary actions on certain days during the summer, we can all choose clean air!
On Ozone Alert! Days, people can make easy choices to reduce pollution that causes ground-level ozone. These Ozone Alert! Day action tips mean cleaner air for everyone:
Combine trips, consider car pooling, or public transit. Or even better...enjoy the day by riding a bicycle or walking to errands and activities.
On Ozone Alet! Days, try to avoid refueling vehicles or using gas-powered lawn equipment. If you must refuel, do it in the evening. Also remember when finished, be sure to tighten your gas cap completely - both on your car and on a gas can you might be filling.
Avoid idling your car on Ozone Alert! Days especially—but also all summer long. Also try to drive economically. Did you know that when you're efficient to save gasoline, you're also helping reduce pollution?
Here's an easy one—Take the lawn chair over the lawnmower...especially on Ozone Alert! Days. With limited emissions controls, gas-powered lawn and garden equipment pollutes a lot more than than driving a car. Try relaxing on Ozone Alert! Days and letting the grass grow a little for a noble cause.
Stay informed. Be SURE you are signed up to receive Alert! Day notifications. You can sign up for text alerts by texting the word OZONE to #41411. Or get email alerts by signing up here online. You can like our FaceBook Page and even Follow us on Twitter. Ozone Alert! Days are announced during weather reports on TV and radio, in the Tulsa World, and other local news. And remember, Ozone Alert! Days are forecast the day before the Alert! Day - for the following day, so you can plan ahead to take action to help clear our air.
Share the knowledge. Every time the Ozone Alert! message is multiplied, more people get involved and our air benefits! Share FaceBook posts, tell your friends and family when Ozone Alert! Days are issued and be a 'clean air' example. We can all help clear our air!