Contact: Melanie Rapp, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902, Melanie.Rapp@state.de.us; or
Kate Layton, Air Quality Partnership and Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization, 302-387-6026, Kate.Layton@DoverKentMPO.org.
Ozone Season kick-off held at Dover Days
Delawareans encouraged to follow air quality forecasts and take actions to help make air cleaner and healthier
DOVER (May 3, 2014) – At today’s Dover Days celebration, DNREC Deputy Secretary David Small and members of the Air Quality Partnership of Delaware were joined by Dover Mayor David L. Bonar and Councilman James L. Hutchison to announce the beginning of ozone season and encourage Delawareans to follow air quality forecasts and take actions that will help make our air cleaner and healthier to breathe.
“May marks the beginning of ozone season, a time when temperatures rise and conditions become favorable for ground-level ozone to form,” said Deputy Sec. Small. “When ozone is forecasted to reach an unhealthy level, DNREC will declare an Air Quality Action Day and urge people to take precautions to protect their health. During ozone season and all year long, we encourage Delawareans to follow our air quality forecasts and take simple actions whenever possible – like riding public transit, biking or walking – that will make a big difference in improving the quality of our air.”
During the spring and summer months, high temperatures and sunlight combine with air pollutants to form ground-level ozone. The air pollutants contributing most to ozone are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which originate from many sources including vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, large and small industrial facilities, chemical solvents, consumer products and natural sources. In addition, ozone can be transported by the wind over great distances, creating air quality problems far downwind of pollution sources. This means that everyone—industries, businesses and people—contribute to the problem.
High levels of ozone near ground level can be harmful to people, animals and crops. When ozone levels are high, children, seniors, people with respiratory ailments and those who work or exercise outside are especially at risk. Ground-level ozone irritates lung passages and causes inflammation with symptoms that can include coughing, wheezing, headaches and shortness of breath. Long-term exposure to even low levels of ozone can trigger asthma and lead to permanent lung damage.
To support ozone season and asthma awareness, Mayor Bonar read two city of Dover proclamations at today’s event encouraging Dover residents to learn about local air quality and take an active role in minimizing pollution.
The city of Dover completely and totally embraces these proclamations and everything they stand for,” Hutchison said. “And the solar park in Dover and the library show that commitment. As more and more knowledge is gained about the environment, we are going to make changes to have a better, cleaner community.”
DNREC’s Division of Air Quality manages the Delaware Air Quality Monitoring Network that includes air monitoring stations in Brandywine, Wilmington, Bellefonte, Delaware City, Summit Bridge, Felton, Lewes and Seaford. The Network’s webpage, http://apps.dnrec.delaware.gov/AirMonitoring/ includes descriptions, photos and the current air quality data at each monitoring station.
“DNREC has been measuring air quality in Delaware for more than 40 years, and for more than a decade the levels of air pollution have been declining,” said Division of Air Quality Director Ali Mirzakhalili. “However, ozone continues to be a serious problem. We urge people to visit DNREC’s website to check the air quality forecast, sign up for email notifications and contact us to learn more about ways they can lessen their exposure to ground-level ozone and help improve air quality.”
Delaware’s ozone data, along with data from other states, is used to develop a daily air quality forecast. Air quality forecasts are made a day in advance, by 2 p.m., and valid for the next day. The daily Air Quality Forecast is posted on DNREC’s website by clicking this link, Air Quality Forecast.
The forecast includes a color-coded rating scale that makes it easy for people to understand – green and yellow codes to signify good and moderate air quality, orange for unhealthy ozone levels for sensitive people and red warns of unhealthy levels for everyone.
At the event, Kate Layton with the Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization spoke on behalf of the AQP. “Motor vehicles contribute significant amounts of pollution to our air. During ozone season – from May through September, we are encouraging people to help improve air quality by walking, biking, carpooling for riding public transit, instead of driving a vehicle,” said Layton.
According to DNREC’s Division of Air Quality, by walking or biking one mile, instead of driving a car, nearly one pound of carbon dioxide emissions is eliminated. If every adult Delawarean walked or biked just one day instead of driving a vehicle, about 15 million pounds of pollution would be eliminated from our air.
Members of the Air Quality Partnership (AQP) of Delaware distributed air quality information and green products, including fans and scavenger hunt game cards. The AQP is a public/private coalition dedicated to improving air quality by providing advisories and educating the public about air quality issues.
The Partnership also announced their new life-size mascot, Tropo, named for the troposphere, the lowest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere that supports life. The Partnership plans to introduce Tropo at schools and community events throughout the state to educate school children and adults about air quality, the health effects of poor air quality and the simple steps that everyone can take to improve the air that we breathe.
Members of the Air Quality Partnership of Delaware include: American Lung Association in DE, Bayshore Ford, Chesapeake Utilities, Clean Air Council, DART First State, Delaware Ecumenical Council, Delmarva Broadcasting, DE Division of Public Health, DNREC, Dover/Kent County MPO, RideShare Delaware, and WILMAPCO.
The daily Air Quality Forecast is posted on DNREC’s website at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/AQI/Pages/AQIForecast.aspx and the Delaware Air Monitoring Network information can be found at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Air/Pages/ozone.aspx.
More information on the Air Quality Partnership and Tropo can be found at www.wilmapco.org/aqp.
For additional information on air quality, health and the air quality index, visit EPA’s website at http://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=aqibasics.aqi.
Especially on Air Quality Action Days, follow these do's and don'ts.
· Ride public transportation or carpool to work
-Ride DART First State. Visit their website at http://www.dartfirststate.com or call them at 1-800-652-DART in New Castle and Kent Counties, and 1-800-553-DART in Sussex County.
-Carpool with friends and/or coworkers. To find a carpool partner, call RideShare Delaware at 1-888-RIDE-MATCH or visit http://www.ridesharedelaware.org
· Avoid idling your vehicle
· Limit daytime driving and combine errands
· When you must drive, try to avoid congested periods
· Care for your car – get regular tune-ups, oil changes and make sure tires are properly inflated
· Maintain your vehicle's emission control equipment
· Walk or ride a bicycle for short, easy trips
· Postpone the use of gasoline-powered mowers until evening
· Refuel your car in the evening - and don't top off your tank
· Avoid lighting your barbecue with starter fluid
· Use latex rather than oil-based paints
Vol. 44, No. 140