The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is reminding citizens to stay vigilant in their efforts to reduce ozone emissions, as the district tries to stave off another round of fines from the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Temperatures remain high and there is very little atmospheric dispersion, which are ideal conditions for ozone formation,” said Stephen Shaw, the Air District’s supervising air quality analyst. “The importance of everyone in the Valley reducing their emissions can’t be overstated.”
The Central Valley’s first Air Alert was declared Tuesday and is in effect through Monday for the entire Central Valley.
Air Alerts are called when conditions may lead to smog formation that results in exceeding health-based ozone standards of 125 parts per billion and in the process, triggering substantial monetary penalties.
In 2010, the EPA fined the Central Valley $29 million for violating federal air-quality standards. Penalty fees can be assessed on businesses that are not using clean-air technology and practices. Additionally, Central Valley residents will have a $12 fee added to their vehicle registration beginning in October to pay a portion of the fine.
On Monday, the three highest ozone readings in the air basin were 97 ppb at Ash Mountain (Tulare County); 91 ppb in Parlier (Fresno County); and 90 ppb in Arvin (Kern County).
On Tuesday, the three highest readings were 108 ppb in Parlier, 107 ppb in central Fresno and 103 ppb in Edison (Kern County). Edison also had the highest levels for Wednesday and Thursday.
“The response to this Air Alert has been overwhelmingly positive and proactive,” said Seyed Sadredin, the Air District’s executive director and air pollution control officer. “The efforts of the Valley’s population is what will make the difference in avoiding this critical ozone threshold.”
About 80 percent of the Valley’s ozone-forming emissions are produced by vehicle use. Residents can reduce smog-forming emissions by refraining from idling when dropping off or picking up students, carpooling or vanpooling, and refraining from using drive-through services.
Businesses and municipalities can reduce emissions by shifting operations to early morning or late evening, as in lawn care; offering flexible work schedules, and encouraging carpools and vanpools for employees. Businesses can also enroll at no cost in the Healthy Air Living Partner program.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.