OZONE Alert Education

Tuesday, August 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Mike Tomlinson is like 96 percent of Tulsans - he's at least familiar with the term Ozone Alert. He knows it has something to do with pollution.

Mike Tomlinson: "they want you to mow later in the day instead of the heat of the day. They really prefer you not to mow on an Ozone Alert Day I think."

Nancy Graham, Air Quality Program: "We have the number one honestly and truly, the number one voluntary proactive air quality program in the nation."

Nancy Graham has worked for years to educate the public about ozone...the message is more important than ever.

Nancy Graham: "it is a true statement that we are very close to that, getting designated nonattainment, and so there's extra reason this year to care and to do the littlest things to clean up the air and to help on an Ozone Alert day. It really, truly does make a difference."

When the air is hot, sunny and still, conditions are ripe for ground-level ozone to accumulate.

It's the most harmful part of smog that causes serious health problems.

So people are asked to cut pollution emissions by carpooling, riding bikes or walking for short trips, and putting-off mowing for non-ozone days. And it's not just Tulsa residents who should be concerned.

There are five monitoring stations in the Tulsa area. The ones with some of the highest ozone levels are outside city limits - one in Skiatook, and the new one near Keystone Lake.

Graham says everyone within a 25 mile radius of the Tulsa Metro should act as though they live within city limits.

Graham: "And the reason is, that ozone becomes most reactive once it has a little time to cook. And so that's a traveling problem, traveling across the metro area - into the east or west, or north or south, and so certainly those folks that live in surrounding areas can help or hurt the issue."

Today marks the seventh Ozone Alert of the summer. And we still have a long way to go.

Last year ten of fifteen Ozone Alert days fell in the month of August. And becoming a "dirty air" city isn't just bad for one's health. It means we will all pay for it.

The Environmental Protection Agency will require us to use special gasoline - which means higher costs at the pump.

Industries will have to install special equipment which could drive away new businesses. Officials say the Ozone Level won't go down by itself.

If Tulsa does become a "dirty-air" city, the Chamber of Commerce estimates the cost of living will increase 3 to 5 percent - and that would include surrounding areas.