Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ozone meetings coming up

By John Sutter

Ever hear about air quality problems and think -- ah -- that's for place like California, not Oklahoma?

Well, think again. Much of the state is at risk for falling out of compliance with federal standards for ozone pollution, which causes asthma in people and stunts the growth of plants.

The state Department of Environmental Quality is holding two meetings on the issue. Here's some info on those, from the DEQ Web site:

    Tulsa - November 17, 2008, 3 to 6 p.m.
    Tulsa Metropolitan Library, Aaronson Auditorium, 400 Civic Center (5th and Denver), Tulsa, OK 74103

    Oklahoma City - December 3, 3 to 6 p.m.
    DEQ Multi-Purpose Room, 707 N Robinson, Oklahoma City, OK 73102

At the meetings, DEQ will discuss possible boundaries for "non-attainment areas," or the places that have air dirty enough to violate federal laws. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency changed its rules on ozone earlier this year, and some state regulators worry about how the laws will be implemented. There should be some interesting discussions if you're able to make it.

And a little background on ozone: It's good up high in the atmosphere, where it absorbs harmful radiation (think anti-aerosol campaigns and talk of the "ozone layer" in the 1990s). On the ground, it's bad. Ground-level ozone is cooked up by sunlight on hot, still days. Its main components come from car exhaust and factory emissions. In Oklahoma City, cars are mostly to blame for the ozone, which is also called smog. In Tulsa, industry has more of an impact.

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