News

Central Ohio is Seeing Improvement in Ozone Pollution

December 3, 2015

Now that the ozone season for 2015 has come to a close, MORPC has released a report on the season. Results are promising for the continued improvement in the state of air quality in the region. Pollution levels were improved despite warmer temperatures that normally contribute to higher ozone levels, and Central Ohio is on track to be in attainment for the new federal ozone standard.

Throughout the year, MORPC is responsible for providing Central Ohioans with important information about the air we breathe– especially for sensitive groups of people, such as children, the elderly, and people with breathing disorders like asthma.

The official ozone season in Central Ohio is from April 1 to October 31, with ground-level ozone levels often ramping up in summer months, when temperatures begin to climb and sunlight is more prevalent.

MORPC issued two air quality alerts this year – on May 8 and July 29. On these days, the region was forecasted to experience pollution at unhealthy levels. Shifting weather conditions resulted in only one of these Air Quality Alert days actually exceeding the standard, meaning the region only experienced one unhealthy day this year.

Although no air quality alerts were issued for the region in 2014, pollution levels overall were slightly better during the 2015 summer season compared to the two previous summer seasons even with temperatures being warmer than normal.

“Lower levels of pollutants despite warmer temperatures during the 2015 ozone season points to decreased emissions levels in the region,” said Evelyn Ebert, MORPC’s Air Quality Program Supervisor. “This means that federal programs meant to address emissions, as well as local efforts, are working.”

A new federal ozone rule, which is effective on January 1, 2016, tightens the federal ozone standard. The new ozone standard is based on recent studies regarding the health effects of ozone pollution on those who would be most sensitive. Pollution levels are measured in parts per billion (ppb) to determine attainment with the standard. Based on preliminary data, Central Ohio’s 2012-2015 average was 71 ppb. The current standard that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups is 75 ppb, but that standard will be strengthened to 70 ppb in 2016.

The good news is that, based on the most recent ozone season, Central Ohio is close to meeting this new, tighter standard.

To read the full report from MORPC and Sonoma Technology, click here. You can also sign up for MORPC’s air quality alerts at airquality.morpc.org.