Indiana Has Plans Under Way to Meet 2009 Ozone Standard
From May to September, the state of Indiana's 42 ozone ambient air quality monitors were at work 24 hours a day measuring ozone levels. The good news is air quality continues to improve across the state. The state's progress toward cleaner air is the result of voluntary actions to reduce emissions that cause unhealthy ozone in the air.
At the close of the 2008 ozone season, monitors in all parts of Indiana measured ozone levels under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency threshold of 85 parts per billion (ppb) for the first time since the standard was established in 1997. This is a strong indicator that air quality in Indiana is permanently improving, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) said in an Oct. 2 press release.
A new, more health-protective federal standard of 75 ppb was established this past spring. Even when compared to the new 75 ppb standard, Indiana's ozone levels show continuous improvement. In 2007, 25 counties measured ozone levels above 75 ppb and now at the end of the 2008 ozone season, the number of counties dropped to 12. In 2010, EPA will make an assessment to ensure all areas of the country are meeting the new standard.
"Hoosiers have worked hard to attain cleaner air, and we've reached a milestone deserving of recognition," said Thomas Easterly, IDEM commissioner. "Our target has narrowed, but it's a target we must, and can, hit. To determine which areas attain the new standard in 2010, we will be looking at ozone levels over a three-year time period from 2007, 2008, and 2009. Our daily actions to reduce emissions at home and at work can make a huge positive impact on air quality."
This summer, IDEM organized the 2008 Ozone Knockout campaign, engaging businesses and citizens in a statewide public awareness initiative offering tips and information about voluntary measures for reducing emissions of ozone-forming pollutants. IDEM identified the last two weeks in June 2008 as historically being the most likely time for elevated ozone levels in Indiana. In May and June, IDEM staff traversed the state, encouraging patrons to avoid idling in drive-through lines, use public transportation, ride bikes or walk to nearby destinations, turn down air conditioners a few degrees, and mow their yards and pump gas during the cooler evening hours.
IDEM staff are already working now to plan next year's Ozone Knockout initiative with the goal of reaching even more individuals and businesses to help ensure all regions of the state meet the new ozone standard by 2010.
"Clean air is everyone's responsibility. When we make simple, everyday decisions with our air quality in mind, individual actions help IDEM protect the citizens of Indiana and our environment," said Easterly.