Tulsa On The Verge Of Making EPA's Dirty Air List

Wednesday, June 27th 2012, 10:03 pm
By: Tess Maune

The Tulsa area has recorded five Ozone Alert days already this summer, with another alert in effect tomorrow.

Tulsa is on the verge of the Environmental Protection Agency's "dirty air list."

The past two summers have been hard on Tulsa's air quality.

The EPA has set standards on six different ground level pollutants. Of those, Ozone is Tulsa's only problem.

The whole state is sizzling, and Tulsa's air quality is suffering.

"In the summertime, though, it's kind of like a sunburn in our lungs," said Nancy Graham, the Air Quality Manager for the Indian Nations Council of Governments.

Graham said that on a hot, windless day the heat bears down on gas emissions to create a ground level pollution that you can't see.

On Monday, the Tulsa region recorded its highest level Ozone Alert in 22 years.

"It's unfortunate that we're having this so early, and that it's so many days of still air that this layer is just trapping in here," said Graham.

Right now, Tulsa is safe from being put on the EPA's "dirty air list", but Graham said the EPA standards are difficult to meet.

And each year the city is on the verge of making that list.

9/2/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Region Ozone Levels Reach Record Highs

"It's not just the city of Tulsa. The airshed for our ozone alert program is very wide. If we were to be on the dirty air list, it could be as much as eight counties in this region that could be placed on there," Graham said.

She said there's something extra this year that could be contributing the already high ozone levels. That's countless number of construction projects.

"In order to make us all move more efficiently, we're suffering right now in the worst time ever with idling cars that are making us push the line even more," Graham said.

Graham admits there's not much we can do when it comes to construction, but asks that we do what we can.

One thing you can do is to wait until the evening hours to fill up your tank or to mow your lawn, so your emissions aren't going into the ozone.

Those small steps could make a big difference.