Ozone Days’ offer warnings on environment

Keeping cool isn’t the only thing a person needs to be concerned about during hot summer days -keeping the environment safe is still a top priority for cities worldwide.

That concern is in part what sparked June 18’s Ozone Action Day, when the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments asks the public to do a number of things to keep the emission of harmful vapors in the atmosphere to a minimum [see factbox].

Particpation in Ozone Action Days is essential, said Stephanie Rizor, project manager for Share A Ride, a Council of Governments program to promote carpooling in northwest Ohiol.

“These alerted days are designed to help reduce ozone levels on days that are conducive for elevated ozone levels,” Rizor said.

“The more people cooperate and participate the better it is for our environment,” Rizor said.

The city of Toledo’s Department of Environmental Services monitors ozone levels in the region and decides when to implement Ozone Action Days.

“Ozone Action Days are typical when the temperature reaches about 90 degrees and higher, with little to no wind,” Rizor said.

“The reason high temperatures go hand in hand with Ozone Action Days is because when fumes enter the atmosphere under intense sunlight the vapors can actually begin to cook,” Rizor said.

Adam Newsom, a city employee and University junior, has no problem complying with the suggested guidelines.

“It’s actually great for me when there is an Ozone Action Day, I don’t have to mow any lawns or paint anything,” Newsom said.

“It gives me a break from my work and at the same time the city, as well as myself, gets to do its part to help the environment,” Newsom said.

The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, which runs the bus system in the Toledo area, also gives out free rides on Ozone Action Days.

“It’s a great way to help the environment while saving gas and money,” said Steve Atkinson, director of marketing for TARTA. “Public transportation is a lot better to use than all the cars driving on the road, it produces less green house gases.”

TARTA doesn’t run in Bowling Green but it does run through nine communities in the Toledo Metro area.

“TARTA can’t run extra routes on Ozone Action Days because of our funding,” Atkinson said.

“We’re funded locally by a levy and we also receive funding through state and federal levels,” Atkinson said.

So far, TARTA’s free rides have had a positive response from the community.

“We find we have a 15 to 25 percent increase in riders on Ozone Action Days depending on the day of the week,” Atkinson said.

The city also believes they have received a positive response in participation.

“It’s hard to tell who actually follows the Ozone Action Day guidelines because its such a hard thing to quantify but, we have found that when we’ve asked numerous people if they’ve been participating they say they have,” Rizor said.

“We’ve also found that since the program has started emission levels have yet to increase,” Rizor said.

Rizor thinks it’s important for people to know Ozone Action Days aren’t the only days to help the environment by preventing emissions.

“We do encourage everyone to follow these guidelines on a daily basis, it’s just especially essential on those days when the city puts out an alert,” Rizor said.

Citizens can be alerted of an Ozone Action Day by watching the local news, listening to the radio or checking online at www.tmacog.org.