Ozone Alert season is underway in Tulsa

Tuesday, May 6th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

There's a lot of focus on tornadoes, but Mother Nature throws one more problem at us this time of year. The 13th annual Ozone Alert season officially kicked off Tuesday.

Failing to meet ozone standards creates a health hazard and could make Tulsa subject to costly federal mandates. As News on 6 reporter Steve Berg tells us, meeting the standard will be tougher than ever this year. It was a festive atmosphere at Driller Stadium for the start of Ozone Alert season. But the actual atmosphere is another story.

Tough new federal ozone standards go into effect next year, with a limit of .084 parts per million. Of the three main area monitoring stations, Glenpool, Tulsa, and Skiatook, only Skiatook has failed to meet the standard. Not because of Skiatook itself, but because our winds are mostly from the south, and so Skiatook is downstream of all the gunk that's produced in the big city. Nancy Graham, "And so by the time it reaches through the metro area, the man-made pollutants that we're doing here. The monitor at the other end of that prevailing wind will tend to spike."

The problem is that even if just one of the three monitors is in non-compliance, then the whole area is considered in non-compliance. "If we can get the Skiatook monitor down, the others look like they will be able to meet the standard."

Tulsa has had as many as 17 Ozone Alert days in a year, but last year, there were only 8. In any event, they say it only takes a little effort during a few days out of the year to improve our air quality and avoid the health hazards and monetary penalties that would come from being branded a "dirty-air" city by the EPA. "On eight days out of 365, we would ask individuals to think about what they're putting into the air."

There are lots of ways to help reduce ozone on ozone alert days, such as driving less and not mowing the lawn. For a full list of tips, check out their web site at WWW.OZONEALERT.COM.