LiveGreen - Little steps, big impact

by Kimberly Rothgeb, LiveGreen | July 09, 2013

Image with file name: LiveGreen211.jpg

The Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) is tackling the issue of ozone levels in our community.

What is ozone?

According to MAPA:

"Ground-level ozone is a component of smog that is produced when nitrogen oxides combine with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and 'cook' in the summer heat. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of nitrogen oxides and VOCs.

"Ozone plays a much different role depending on whether it is at ground level or six miles up in the second layer of atmosphere. Ozone up high protects us from UV rays. Ozone at ground level is a pollutant that affects our lung health. Ground-level ozone interferes with the ability of plants to produce and store food as ozone is absorbed by plant leaves. This compromises the growth, reproduction, and overall health of the plant. Ground-level ozone has also been shown to reduce agricultural yields. The effects of ground-level ozone can damage entire ecosystems of forests."

We can't always predict the days when ozone levels will be elevated, so MAPA has created Ozone Awareness Days, to help understand that "Little Steps" can make a "Big Impact."

Designated "Ozone Awareness Days" are:

  • July 15, 16, 17 and 18; and
  • Aug. 12, 13, 14 and 15.

MAPA has some simple things that we can do to limit emissions, especially during the hottest parts of the day.

  • Have you ever thought about leaving your car at home and riding your bike, walking, carpooling or riding the bus to work? Metro Area Transit bus tickets are only 50 cents during Ozone Awareness Days;
  • Wait to fill the tank until dusk or nighttime. Warmer temperatures allow more fumes to escape, which help to form ozone;
  • Don't go past the 'click' at the gas pump. If you stop pumping gas when you hear the click, you will reduce fumes that are ozone-forming;
  • Limit using gas powered lawn equipment during the hottest part of the day;
  • Put caps and lids back on paints, solvents and cleaners -- the fumes from these items are ozone forming; and
  • Did you know that idling for 30 seconds will use just as much gas as shutting off and restarting your engine? So turn off your vehicle if you are going to be idling for 30 seconds or more.

For more information on ozone and reducing emissions, go to the "Little Steps. Big Impact" website and then check out the EPA's website on ozone.

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