Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Year's first smog alert issued




By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Tristate's air pollution will be baked by high temperatures and sunlight over the next two days — a combination that is likely to create smog and make it difficult for some people to breathe.

        Hamilton County's Department of Environmental Services has issued a smog alert for today and Wednesday. The alert means people with respiratory illness, children and the elderly should be careful when exerting themselves outside.

HOW TO HELP
  Tips for individuals to help reduce smog:
  • Take the bus.
  • Car pool.
  • Ride a bike or skates.
  • Use gasoline powered lawn equipment after 6 p.m.
  • Keep vehicle maintained.
  • Eliminate unnecessary trips.
  • Refuel after 6 p.m., and don't top off.
  • Avoid using oil-based paints and stains.
  • Conserve electricity.
ON THE WEB
Information about Environmental Protection Agency's warning system is available at www.doyourshare.org.
        Smog makes it difficult for lungs to absorb oxygen, and irritates the lining of the throat and lungs.

        Today's warning, the first of the year, is the lowest in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's index. There are three higher levels of warning.

        “With these minimal warnings, we don't like them, but people can plan their outdoor activities and limit the really heavy work like mowing if they have any type of respiratory disease,” said Tim Ingram, the county's Health Commissioner.

        Emissions spit out by Tristate vehicles are, by far, the most common smog-producing pollutant, accounting for about 44 percent of the problem. But industrial sources, such as factories, combined with lawn equipment, oil-based paints and boats also help make smog.

        Issuing a smog alert is a bit like predicting the weather, said Anna Kelley, an air quality monitoring coordinator for the county's Department of Environmental Services.

        Seven monitoring sites throughout the county mea sure the amount of ozone in the air. Then they look at the forecast: High temperatures, little cloud cover and light winds and no rain is the recipe. Ozone is created when pollution combines with sunlight and hydrocarbon.

        “The weather is a major influence,” Ms. Kelley said. “If the conditions are right, then there's a good chance smog will develop.”

        Smog “season” typically runs from April through October. Last year, the Tristate had one smog alert spanning two days. In 1999, one of the hottest summers in recent memory, there were seven alerts spanning 27 days.

        Individuals can help reduce smog by limiting car travel, refueling only after 6 p.m. and avoiding oil-based paints.

        Mr. Ingram also said people should talk to their doctors about how smog can affect their conditions.

       



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