Health officials in Douglas County forecast ground-level ozone in the moderate range of the Federal Air Quality Index for today and Tuesday. Elevated ozone concentrations can pose a risk to those with chronic respiratory problems like asthma, emphysema and bronchitis.
Ground level ozone is formed when several common airborne pollutants, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides react with sunlight, heat and lack of wind. Vehicle exhaust and petroleum evaporate less and are the biggest sources of these pollutants.
Sue Cutsforth is the information officer with the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) and says there are things that can be done to help mitigate the ozone problem. She says, “One of the key things involves vehicle emissions so choosing cleaner burning biofuels for your vehicle when you are refueling. While you are refueling, choosing to do that in the later parts of the day and evening. If you are driving don’t let your vehicle idle for more than 30 seconds. If you are in one of those long drive-thru lines it might actually be faster for you to just park the car and go inside. If you are going to mow wait until the later part of the evening to mow.”
Other recommendations are carpooling, walking, biking or taking public transportation, cap all paints, solvents and cleaners when not and use and switch to electric or manual lawn equipment.
MAPA is partnering with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, City of Omaha and the Douglas County Health Department to address the area’s ozone levels and devise strategies for mitigating them.