In an effort to thwart increasing ozone levels, the air basin’s first Air Alert episode of 2013 began Monday and continues through Wednesday. The Air Alert is effective in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and the Valley portion of Kern County.
Air Alerts are declared when conditions that lead to ozone formation – increased emissions, high temperatures and stagnant air flow – materialize in the Valley. High ozone levels are harmful to health and also put the Valley at risk for exceeding the 1-hour federal ozone standard, which can trigger an annual $29 million federal penalty. This penalty is paid by Valley drivers in the form of a $12 addition to their DMV registration fee plus increased fees on Valley businesses.
Episodes of late-summer high ozone are correlated to back-to-school traffic and increased vehicle idling.
“Since this program was initiated two years ago, we have had positive response from Valley residents and businesses, who understand that cooperating to minimize 1-hour ozone pays big dividends year-round,” said Seyed Sadredin, the Air District’s executive officer and air pollution control officer.
Steps residents can take to reduce ozone levels include refraining from idling when dropping off/picking up students, carpooling, vanpooling and using alternate transportation, and refraining from using drive-through services.
Businesses and municipalities can reduce emissions by shifting operations to early morning or late evening, when ozone levels are lower, offering flexible work schedules, promoting carpools and vanpools for employees, and becoming a Healthy Air Living partner.
To receive notification of an Air Alert, please call 1-800 SMOG INFO (766-4463), visit the Air District’s website at www.valleyair.org, or subscribe to the free automated Air Alert email list at www.valleyair.org/list.list.htm.
For more information about Air Alerts, visit www.valleyair.org, www.healthyairliving.com or call the District office in Modesto (209-557-6400.