Air quality is the amount of pollution in the air we breathe – from all sources, natural and human. Air pollution is all around us, occurring both indoors and outdoors. The most common and unhealthy air pollutants are particulate matter, carbon monoxide, lead sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and ozone. Air purifiers can temporarily improve an indoor environment, but air pollution outside is far more complicated and difficult to control. Not only does it exist from sources all over the Tulsa Metropolitan area, it can blow in from other parts of Oklahoma, from neighboring states, and even from other countries.

But let’s talk about ozone. Tulsa's Ozone Alert! Program is about ozone at ground-level - unhealthy to breathe, outdoor air pollution. In the upper atmosphere, ozone is a protective layer around the earth; but importantly, the two types of ozone aren't connected. Ground-level ozone forms when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) react in sunlight and heat. A summertime chemical reaction, VOCs and NOx emissions come from sources like gasoline-powered engines, industry and household paints and solvents. The key to reducing ozone is to reduce the emissions that create it.

Top 5 Tips to Help Air Quality in the Tulsa Area

The best solution for air pollution is reduction. People can make conscious decisions to reduce or even eliminate personal activities that create air emissions. Here are the five top solutions:

  • Altering your driving habits. Simple changes like consolidating trips, joining a carpool, bicycling, or riding the bus all reduce air pollution.
  • Stop topping off your gas tank. Since most of our cars still use petroleum gasoline, simply stopping at the pump click, hanging up the nozzle and putting your car’s gas cap back on quickly can help keep excess emissions from the air.
  • Keep your car well-maintained. A well-running car engine is economical and cleaner than a neglected one. Keep the oil and air filter maintenance up. And check to see that the tires are inflated to their proper levels.
  • Avoid jack-rabbit starts and lead-foot stops. Vehicles pollute less – and save gas – when drivers are gentle on the pedals. Pushing the pedal to the metal on the green out of that traffic light is a bad idea for lots of reasons – adding extra amounts of pollution to the air is just one of them.
  • If possible, consider switching from a gasoline-powered car to a cleaner-burning one like compressed natural gas; or, switch to a zero emission electric vehicle.

Helpful Resources