Monday, May 28, 2001

Butler Co. air 'worst' in Ohio

Tristate ozone levels high

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — The American Lung Association has given Butler County an unwanted distinction. Butler's air is the worst in Ohio, according to the association's recent report on smog.

        From 1997 to 1999, there were 46 days of ozone readings above .085 parts per million. The Lung Association says this level is unhealthy for sensitive groups.

  Butler County's ozone record was the worst in Ohio, but all Cincinnati-area counties earned an “F.” Here are the numbers of high-ozone days in each:
  Clermont County: 39
  Warren County: 37
  Hamilton County: 31
  Campbell County: 19
  Kenton County: 18
  Boone County: 12
        But the rest of Southwestern Ohio and Northern Kentucky have nothing to brag about. All those counties received an “F” for air quality in this report, which was based on ozone monitoring data collected by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1997 to 1999.

        The Lung Association recommends that on high ozone days, children, active adults and people with respiratory diseases avoid prolonged outdoor exertion.

        Butler County Commissioner Courtney Combs said he wants to review the report and find out where the county needs to improve.

        “I'm surprised that Butler County is the worst county in the state for air pollution,” he said. “I would have thought the counties with the bigger cities would have tended to be the worst.”

        Mary Moore, utilities and environmental administrator for the city of Hamilton, said many EPA clean-air initiatives have been implemented in Butler County and other counties in the area since 1999.

        One of the initiatives, she said, requires electric generating units to decrease their nitrous oxide emissions by 85 percent.

        Ms. Moore said the Lung Association's report fails to take into account that ozone levels depend to a great extent on weather, air movements and topography.

        “It's an area phenomenon,” she said. “To look at it on a county-by-county basis is misleading.”

        In the summer, when ozone levels are at their highest, prevailing winds come from the southwest and blow through the Miami Valley. As a result, Butler receives air pollution from other counties, Ms. Moore said.

        Ms. Moore said it's important for individuals to help keep ozone levels down.

        Some suggestions: Making fewer car trips; mowing the lawn after 6 p.m.; and refraining from topping off cars' gasoline tanks.


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