Unusual late-season high temperatures and stagnant atmospheric conditions, combined with vehicle emissions, have prompted local air officials to declare the second Air Alert of the year, Saturday through Wednesday.
Air Alerts are declared Valley-wide when conditions are favorable for ozone levels to exceed the federal one-hour ozone standard unless action is taken to prevent them from increasing.
"Thanks to the public's understanding of this issue and their efforts to reduce emissions, we've had a good summer so far, and we're on track for the first August and September ever with no one-hour ozone exceedances," said Seyed Sadredin, the Air District's executive director and air pollution control officer. "But we're facing abnormal conditions this week and it's critical to minimize our emissions."
So far this year, the air basin has had a single 1-hour ozone exceedance earlier in the summer. Federal law requires no more than three exceedances at any given monitor throughout the Valley within a three-year period in order to avoid an annual $29 million penalty.
"If we avoid any exceedances through October, we are on track for Year One of this three-year period," Sadredin said.
During an Air Alert episode, residents and businesses are urged to put into place measures that reduce vehicle emissions, such as:
• Refraining from vehicle idling,
• Carpooling or vanpooling, and
• Avoiding the use of drive-through services.
Additional measures, such as shifting ozone-creating activities such as lawn maintenance to early mornings, can help offset rising ozone levels.
Officials urge residents to take health-protective measures during periods when ozone is building. High ozone levels can exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma, and cause symptoms such as sore throat and coughing.
The Air District encourages residents to subscribe to the Real-Time Air Advisory Network, a free data-delivery service which sends current, real-time air-quality data directly to the subscriber's computer or phone. Additionally, the RAAN program offers outdoor activity guidelines for rising ozone levels. To learn more about RAAN, visit http://www.valleyair.org/Programs/RAAN/raan_landing.htm.
"Our experience this year with regard to this 1-hour ozone standard demonstrates the success of the Healthy Air Living program, which urges people to adopt air-friendly practices, and the Valley's active participation in minimizing air pollution," Sadredin said.